Aug. 9, 2019 — At the 2019 Matriculation Ceremony of the University of Colorado School of Medicine, keynote speaker Maurice "Scotty" Scott, MD, told 184 new medical students to expect to struggle at times in their four years of medical school, but to also remember to look for the goodness around them.
"What you have heard is true that regardless of what medical path you choose, there will be weeks and more weeks that are riddled with the darkness of self-doubt, defeat, inflexibility and sadness," said Scott, a Denver East High School graduate and assistant professor of Internal Medicine at the CU School of Medicine who practices at UCHealth.
"Focus on the light because the light is available to all of us. In the light, there is humor, laughter, hope, reassurance and joy, and through the light, life becomes not only more bearable but often more beautiful."
He remembered that his first self-doubts came shortly after he started medical school.
His classmates were "using words like dyspnea, hepatic and subdural, as if I already should know what they meant," Scott said.
But in hindsight, Scott realized that even in the darkest times there were "glimmers of light all around me" including food, advice, and companionship from family and friends, camaraderie in a delivery room while waiting for a birth, humor and support from classmates and teachers.
"The same residents and attendings who somehow made me feel so stupid earlier in the day were the only ones who could offer the reassuring words that I did not somehow contribute to the death of my patient who just coded and died in front of my eyes," he said.
"The more light you find, you will start reflecting it back, and then you will be the light for all of your patients and their families, the ones who from now on will undoubtedly come in your presence in search of relief, advice, and cure."
To help students focus on positive moments, Kelsey Repine, a fourth-year medical student, presented members of the class of 2023 with gratitude journals created by medical students, faculty, physicians, and administrators.
She encouraged the new students to write three things each day.
"Be grateful for hot coffee, doughnuts at hospital cafeteria, a resident who spent time teaching you, the patient who made you laugh, or peers helping you study for your next exam. Everything counts."
In his remarks, Dean John J. Reilly, Jr., MD, acknowledged the diversity of the class of 2023.
"I see a class that looks very different from the class of 1981 that I graduated in. I'm happy to look at a group of highly accomplished individuals who look more like the rest of society," Reilly said to applause.
In a world torn apart by political, racial and religious strife,he said, physicians belong to a profession that interacts with all types of people.
"It's an important part of your medical education to understand that. Learn how to engage with people of different backgrounds constructively and productively, learn how to talk about difficult issues among yourselves and with your patients in a respectful and professional way and understand ultimately, the decisions around medical care lie with your patients and not with us. It's our job to provide them with guidance and advice and information they need to make those decisions and then support them when they do."
At the ceremony, role models for the incoming class were honored. Thirty-one students were inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society in recognition of their excellence in clinical care, leadership, compassion and dedication to service.
Progress Asoluka — . Healthcare workers' neglect of his mother and younger sister spurred an interest in a health career.
Boston Gubler — .Befriending a stranger while on a mission in Chile prompted a change in career plans from business to medicine.
Bianca Sanchez — .A first-generation college graduate, Sanchez credits an internship with giving her confidence to pursue medicine.