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Vital Signs

A thoughtful send-off for 166 DMS graduates

By Jennifer Durgin

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It was under gloomy skies that the graduates marched into DMS's Class Day ceremonies this year, but inside the tent all was festive and colorful.

There are many times during graduate school when students may feel a little uncertain, but graduation day is not usually one of them. And yet uncertainty was the theme that Michael Miller, the Ph.D. student speaker, chose for his 2011 Class Day speech. In all, DMS bade farewell to 166 students from the M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., and M.S. programs this past June.

Ideas: "I urge each of you to find your own balance," said Miller, "between confidence, gained from your knowledge and experience, and uncertainty, to allow new ideas and observations to inform your approach." Miller's research mentor, Surachai Supattapone, M.D., Ph.D., often advised him, he said, to become "comfortable with uncertainty." (See page 3 for a recent finding they made.)

"We might think of science," Miller went on, "as a system of strict and established facts: the double helical structure of DNA, a drug's effect on a disease, or the movements of planets in the solar system." But the foundation of science "is not made of concrete, but of sand that can shift beneath our feet. Indeed, this endeavor is not a linear path."

Nonlinear: The M.P.H. student speaker, Don Caruso, M.D., who has been a family doctor for over 25 years, shared his own nonlinear career path. Three years ago, he decided to "go back to school" at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice (TDI)—while continuing to practice and oversee primary care at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Clinic in Keene, N.H. "The challenges over the last three years at TDI have been tremendous," he said, but added that "challenges are what make us grow, [and] growth is essential for personal satisfaction."

A class of their own

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In addition to addressing the personal aspects of scientific and medical careers, all of the speakers encouraged the graduates to tackle problems bigger than themselves. That message was also echoed during the Dartmouth College commencement ceremony the next day.

Howard Hiatt, M.D., a recipient of one of the honorary degrees, served as a prime example for the graduates of someone who has taken on broad public health issues while building a career. He is a founder of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and of the Division of Social Medicine and Health at Brigham and Women's Hospital. He has "been hailed for making public health the watchdog and conscience of medicine," said Dartmouth President Jim Yong Kim, M.D., Ph.D., in awarding Hiatt an honorary doctorate of science.

Kim also presented an honorary degree to Michael Gazzaniga, Ph.D., a 1961 graduate of Dartmouth College. Later, while on the faculty at Dartmouth, Gazzaniga established the Dartmouth Center for Cognitive Neuroscience and has since "taken [his] place in history as the father of cognitive neuroscience," said Kim.

Lofty: No matter what path the graduates had chosen—science, medicine, or policy—they all received the same lofty charges on Class Day. For example, keynote speaker Darrell Kirch, M.D., president of the Association of American Medical Colleges, went further than just inspiring the graduates to tackle big issues. He told them that helping to fix the U.S. health-care system "is a matter of your ethical obligations, not your politics. . . . I hope you're ready to join us in a very worthy effort."

His mentor advised him to become "comfortable with uncertainty."

Erin Sullivan, the M.D. student speaker, built on this theme by reminding graduates of a famous quote by former Dartmouth President John Sloan Dickey: "The world's troubles are your troubles, and there is nothing wrong with the world that better human beings cannot fix."

"That is the Dartmouth legacy," she added, "and it is our turn to bring his words to life."

Faculty awards: As the graduates headed out into the world to do just that, there was one thing they appeared certain of, and that's the teachers who had had the greatest impact on them. They presented the Basic Science Teaching Award to Dr. Lee Witters, an endocrinologist; the Clinical Science Teaching Award to Dr. John Dick, a hospitalist; and the Thomas P. Almy Housestaff Teaching Award to Dr. Abhishek Chatterjee, a resident in general surgery.

Class of 2011 Awards and Prizes

Dean's Medal

Laura Amar-Dolan

Good Physician Award

Thomas Frandsen

John W. Strohbehn Medal for Excellence in Biomedical Research

Fabrizio Galimberti

Frederic P. Lord Award in Anatomy

Joo Cho

Department of Anesthesiology Award

George Allen

Saul Blatman Award for Excellence in Maternal and Child Health

Abigail Hoke

Department of Medicine Paul Gerber Award

Chetan Huded

American Academy of Neurology Prize

Margaret McDermott

Barry D. Smith, M.D., Award for Excellence in Obstetrics and Gynecology

Erin Washburn

Dr. Freddie Fu Orthopaedic Surgery Award

M. Allison Arensman

New Hampshire Pediatric Society Award

Alissa Curda

Department of Psychiatry Award

Matthew Ippolito

Harte C. Crow Award in Radiology

Joo Cho

Arthur Naitove Surgical Scholar Award

Claudia Berrondo

Dartmouth-Mosenthal Surgical Society

M. Allison Arensman, Claudia Berrondo, Brian Doyle, Thomas Kowalik, Jennifer Tonneson, Hanghang Wang

Julian and Melba Jarrett Memorial Prize

Kimberley Cartmill

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

Nicolas Ellis

Ford von Reyn Global Health Research Fellow

Matthew Ippolito

John and Sophia Zaslow Prize

Elizabeth Killien

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

Arye Elfenbein

Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award

Jill Rosno

John F. Radebaugh Community Service Award

Matthew Ippolito

Rural Health Scholar Awards

Abigail Hoke, Matthew Ippolito, Margaret McDermott

Glasgow-Rubin Citation for Academic Achievement

Laura Amar-Dolan, Kimberly Cartmill, Alissa Curda, Elizabeth Killien, Abiodun Kukoyi

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

George Allen, M. Allison Arensman

Rolf C. Syvertsen Fellow and Scholars

Amy Chan, Laura Amar-Dolan, Kimberly Cartmill, Alissa Curda, Abiodun Kukoyi

Merck Manual Awards

Thomas Frandsen, Jill Rosno, Erin Sullivan

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