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Vital Signs

DMS Class Day 2006: Lots of good cheer despite absence of sun

By Rosemary Lunardini

Dr. Stephen Spielberg, DMS's dean, opened the 2006 Class Day ceremonies with an apology that "we could not be outdoors today." The graduates, faculty, and speakers—all in colorful academic regalia—had marched in behind a pair of bagpipers—Drs. James Feeney and Travis Matheney, both DMS '00s—into the College's Leede Arena. There, family and friends eagerly awaited their arrival on an inclement day. But, explained Spielberg, the occasion is about family and friends, those who sustained the graduates during their education, so their presence mattered more than the absence of sun.

Service: Dr. Antonia Novello, the 14th U.S. surgeon general and the first woman and first Hispanic to hold that office, gave the keynote address. Now New York State's health commissioner, Novello called the graduates "colleagues" throughout her speech and noted that she was impressed by their community service—from providing assistance to special-needs children to singing at hospitals and nursing homes.

She frequently interjected counsel, too. "The happiest people I know are those who go about their everyday lives doing good things for other people without asking 'What's in it for me?'" she said. "For a moment, colleagues, I want you to imagine a world in which 'we' would replace 'I' as the operative pronoun. Think of the impact on learning and knowledge if there were intellectuality without arrogance."

Diverse: She laid down three serious challenges to the graduates: to respond to the needs of an increasingly diverse society; to work to eliminate disparities affecting the health of the nation's emerging majorities; and to approach their work with a professionalism that keeps medicine a sacred institution.

"If you . . . succeed in caring for all, you must become men and women who are concerned with discovering where your patients come from, where they've been . . . their total persona, their integral humanity," Novello said. "We must fight for a healthcare system where all patients have access to doctors, clinics, specialists, diagnostic tests, and needed services.

"Control has been wrested from health-care professionals and is in the hands of bureaucrats, CEOs, and even politicians," she went on. "In these times I cannot help but wonder whether the essential humanity of medicine will survive. And I cannot help but ponder the way it once was and ask, 'Is there a doctor in the house?' I suggest . . . we must start to respond more directly to the needs of our patients and make ourselves heard as representatives of the communities we serve." (See here for more of Novello's thoughts in this issue's "Point of View" essay, which was adapted from her Class Day talk.)

She was followed by medical student speaker Jean-Paul Dedam and graduate

Student Prizes and Awards

Dean's Medal Lisa Ernst

John W. Strohbehn Medal Neil Ganem

Good Physician Award Andrew Place

American Academy of Neurology Prize Andrew Place, Cloe Shelton

Department of Anesthesiology Award Cloe Shelton

Saul Blatman Award in Maternal and Child Health John Raser

Harte C. Crow Award in Radiology David Bauer

Dartmouth-Mosenthal Surgical Society David Doman, Joseph Dwaihy, Thomas Kesman, Meredith Sorensen, Benjamin Whittam

E. Elizabeth French Award in Pathology Gregory Fuhrer

Dr. Freddie Fu Orthopaedic Surgery Award Thomas Kesman

AMWA Glasgow-Rubin Achievement Award Lisa Ernst

AMWA Glasgow-Rubin Achievement Citations Lisa Ernst, Lizabeth Martin, Cloe Shelton

Hitchcock Foundation Research Prize David Bauer, Erik Bergquist

Julian and Melba Jarrett Memorial Prize Joseph Dwaihy

C. Everett Koop, M.D., Courage Award Scott Hughes

Frederic P. Lord Award in Anatomy Cloe Shelton

Department of Medicine Award Lisa Ernst

Merck Manual Awards David Bauer, Brett Chevalier, Sai Li, Rebecca Swenson

Arthur Naitove Surgical Scholar Award Meredith Sorensen

New England Pediatric Society Award Andrew Place

Payson-Hampers M.D.-M.B.A. Scholars Award Thomas Kesman

Department of Psychiatry Award Jodi Leverone

John F. Radebaugh Community Service Award John Raser, Sabrina Selim

Rural Health Scholar Awards Christine Cooley, Paul McKie, Meredith Sorensen

Barry D. Smith, M.D., Award in Obstetrics and Gynecology Brett Chevalier

Stanley J. Sarnoff Cardiovascular Science Fellowship Award Paul McKie

Rolf C. Syvertsen Fellow Lisa Ernst

Rolf C. Syvertsen Scholars Christine Cooley, Jean-Paul Dedam, John Raser, Rebecca Swenson, Theodore Yuo

Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award John Raser

John and Sophia Zaslow Prize John Raser

Douglas P. Zipes, M.D., Research Prize in Medicine Paul McKie

student speaker Koren Nishina. "Medical school was easily the four hardest years of my life," Dedam said. "When I was three years old, I wanted to be a cowboy." Instead, he opted for "working 80 hours a week in a hospital. . . . It all comes back to love—unconditional, childlike love for life, for humanity, for each other, and for the art of medicine."

Nishina told the biomedical graduates, "During our time at Dartmouth we learned how to be scientists—how to ask questions, how to design experiments to answer these questions, and how to troubleshoot our experiments. . . . Whatever your challenge or goal, always work hard. Never give up."

Degrees: This year, 56 students received M.D.'s and 21 were awarded Ph.D.'s. The Ph.D. degrees included six in biochemistry, one in genetics, six in microbiology and immunology, three in pharmacology and toxicology, two in physiology, and three in the evaluative clinical sciences. There were also four M.S. graduates in the biomedical sciences and 10 in the evaluative clinical sciences, while 49 master of public health degrees were awarded.

Since everyone knows who the graduates are, the big mystery of Class Day is who will receive the three top awards not announced until that day. Dean Spielberg and Dr. Lori Arviso Alvord, associate dean for student and multicultural affairs, broke the suspense. The recipients were: Lisa Ernst, presented with the Dean's Medal for "a remarkable record" in medical school and a perfect score in her clerkships; Neil Ganem, the John W. Strohbehn Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research, for "remarkable results" in his study of cell proteins; and Andrew Place, the Good Physician Award, as the best exemplar of the personal and intangible qualities of a good physician. Place was the first M.D.-Ph.D. student to ever receive the Good Physician Award; he completed his Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology in 2004.

In addition, the students had some awards to give out. The M.D. graduates chose Dr. Philip Goodney, a resident in surgery, as the recipient of the Thomas P. Almy Housestaff Teaching Award; Dr. Rand Swenson, an associate professor of anatomy and of medicine, as the recipient of the Basic Science Teaching Award; and Dr. Hugh Huizenga, a professor of medicine, as the recipient of the Clinical Science Teaching Award.

Oath: A final tradition, the recitation of the Hippocratic Oath by the medical graduates, was led by Dean Spielberg. From bagpipes to academic regalia, tradition ruled at Class Day 2006. But there seems to be a rule that tradition needs a break now and then. This year it came when student speaker "J.P." Dedam called his classmate Chris Jons up on stage with his guitar to play the Beatles' "All You Need Is Love." Soon the entire audience had joined in, swaying and singing, "Love is all you need . . ."

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