Medical graduates challenged to improve people's lives

Also, Mountain Dew isn’t food

New physicians Ken Dunham, left, and Anthony Hayes congratulate each other after receiving their medical degrees at the Brody School of Medicine convocation May 9. Photo by Cliff Hollis
GREENVILLE, N.C.  (May 9, 2003)  —  The medical class of 2003 chose one of their faculty instructors to give them words of advice and encouragement during the annual convocation of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University.

Sixty-two medical students, the 23rd graduating class, celebrated May 9 during the annual ceremony preceding commencement.

Dr. Catherine Sotir, a clinical assistant professor of family medicine, urged the new doctors to remember throughout their careers that they will have an opportunity every day to make someone’s life better.

"Life is not what happens to people," she said. "It’s what happens between people."

Sotir said she had a sense of pride as she had watched the class meet challenges during their years at Brody. She joined the ECU faculty in 1999, the year the graduating class entered medical school.

"I heard you complain that you couldn’t hear anything with the stethoscope and then realize you had the ear pieces in backwards," she said. "I watched some of you thump on each other’s chests with the reflex hammer instead of with your fingers. And what I had allotted five minutes for became 45 minutes of you looking up each other’s noses. Who knew there was so much going on in the nose?"

Her comments drew laughs and knowing glances between the classmates.

She gave several words of advice to the new physicians, who will begin their residency training in July. "Mountain Dew is not food," she said.

She added she’s seen residents counsel their patients about a healthy diet and then drink a Mountain Dew for breakfast. "Some days, choose fruit instead of the Mountain Dew and doughnut," she said.

She also stressed that the graduates should not beat themselves up during residency striving to be perfect. "The drive to be perfect can take over," she said. "Just remember that you’re a new physician who’s about to learn a heck of a lot."

Graduate Jose A. Ramirez-Del Toro also spoke. "I must confess we thought this day would never come," he said, drawing laughter and a few nods from his classmates.

He thanked the medical faculty for their dedication to their profession. "Your efforts every day, day in and day out, have taught us through your example of excellence," he said.

He also thanked the significant others of the class members and family members. "You put up with our whining and complaining," he said.

And he thanked the patients who had helped the class through their years of learning. "The patients have taught us through experience. Patient encounters have taught us humility," he said. "How trusting to let us learn from them. We’ve learned to honor that trust."

He concluded his remarks by telling family and friends that the new physicians promised to stay humble. And to his class-mates, Ramirez-Del Toro said, "Let us always remember our idealism. Practice like it’s our life, not our job."

Awards were presented to class members and faculty at an earlier event. Christopher M. Scott of Rural Hall won the Faculty Award, emblematic of the most outstanding student. Timothy Dwight Smith of Lincolnton received a special appreciation award from the class.

Among faculty members, Drs. Paul Strausbauch of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Mary Jane Barchman, a nephrologist with the Department of Internal Medicine, and Scott Sagraves of the Department of Surgery received awards as the best basic science and clinical science teachers. Sagraves was selected by the class to lead them in reciting the Oath of Hippocrates.

Resident of the year was Dr. Mark R. Bowling, who is pursuing a combined medicine/pediatrics residency.

Jason Goebel, in his response on behalf of the class, thanked the faculty for their dedication. "The Brody School of Medicine faculty takes average medical students and makes them into outstanding physicians," he s

Contact: Jeannine Manning Hutson | 252-744-2481