Ceremony Marks Significant Turning Point in Training

Published September 3, 2019

story by alexandra edelblute

The Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences Class of 2021 was honored during the 17th annual Student Clinician Ceremony.

“Humanism in medicine is a way of practicing that makes all the hard work worthwhile and deeply satisfying. ”
Associate dean and director of medical admissions; associate professor of psychiatry

The ceremony recognizes the transition of rising third-year medical students from the academic to the clinical years.

Entering Clinical Years With Support System

The event, developed by students and faculty, aims to reinforce the confidence felt by students entering their clinical years by discussing fears and expectations, providing insight and revisiting the oath taken during their White Coat Ceremony.

The intention of the ceremony is to initiate medical students into their clinical years with a support system.

Advocating for Accepting Approach

Keynote speaker Dori R. Marshall, MD, associate dean and director of medical admissions, shared her perspective of humanism in medicine.

“Humanism in medicine is a way of practicing that makes all the hard work worthwhile and deeply satisfying,” she said. “It means approaching patients with humility and curiosity and deep care, with the intention of offering the best of your knowledge in pursuit of their goals for their own health.”

Marshall, an associate professor of psychiatry, provided insights into how she approaches her own patients. She asked the students to think about American psychologist Carl Rogers’ concept of “unconditional positive regard,” which is the idea of showing complete support and acceptance of a patient.

“This position does not require that as a physician, you must like all of your patients, or like their behaviors, or agree with their choices. But it does mean that you respect their humanity,” she said.

The concept of unconditional positive regard, explained Marshall, is that “one should approach each patient with a basic recognition that this human being in front of you, who has come to you for help, deserves your care and respect, and your acknowledgment at some level that he is doing the best he can, at this particular point in time, with the gifts and talents he has been blessed with — or has not been blessed with.”

The Path to Rewarding Patient Relationships

Using illustrative examples — including experiences treating one of her own patients and an account from the book “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande — Marshall urged students to stay focused on the individuality of each of their patients. “Know where your patient comes from, know what she values, and know what she wants from you in treatment,” she said. 

“Humanism in medicine is about more than offering the best medicines or the best procedures,” said Marshall. “It’s about taking the time to carefully listen to and arrive at an understanding of who your patient is,” she said, noting that knowing a patient’s values and priorities is crucial in determining the “right treatment” for the patient.

“If you approach each and every patient with a spirit of unconditional positive regard, and then take the time to really get to know your patients, you will be on the path to growing deeply rewarding relationships with your patients, rooted in trust and respect,” she emphasized. 

“This will render your work infinitely meaningful and will result in the best care possible for your patients.”

Residents Recognized With Teaching Awards

Students in the Class of 2020 nominated six residents to receive the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Awards. The awards are based on their demonstration of commitment to teaching and compassionate treatment of patients, families, students and colleagues.

Maritza Taylor, Class of 2022 — a member of the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) — presented the awardees, who are:

Dean Leads Students in Recitation of Oath

Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president of health sciences and dean of the medical school, led students and all physicians in attendance in reciting the oath of medicine, in which they pledged to:

  • respect the scientific gains of physicians and scientists who have come before them
  • remember that there is art and science to medicine
  • pursue the expansion of knowledge throughout their lives for the benefit of their patients
  • practice medicine with conscience and dignity
  • respect patients’ privacy and remain non-judgmental of them 
  • focus on prevention of disease and health conditions
  • tread with care in matters of life and death

Presented by Professional Conduct Committee

The event was presented by the PCC, established in 2000 when the Code of Professional Conduct for UB medical students was ratified. It consists of three student representatives from each class and three faculty members.

Funding for the event was provided by the John A. Wendel Endowment Fund, established by Virginia Wendel; the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and the Medical Alumni Association.

The ceremony was held June 28 in the David C. Hohn, MD, Lecture Hall in the Research Studies Center at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.