ECU News Service
Cliff Hollis/ECU News ServiceTatiana Acosta, far right, joined 79 fellow classmates entering studies at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University as they recited the medical student pledge during a welcoming ceremony for the class of 2016.
Article from the Daily Reflector (2012)
The newest generation of physicians coming from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University will be challenged to provide better quality medical care to more people than ever before, their teachers said Friday at a ceremony welcoming the class of 2016. A group of 80 men and women began their medical studies ceremonially cloaked with the mantle of the medical profession: their white coats. The 41 men and 39 women comprise the largest class in the school’s 38-year history. The original ceremony was sponsored in 1994 by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation to foster humanism in medicine. It helps establish a psychological contract for the practice of medicine, emphasizing scientific efficiency and compassionate patient care, Dr. Paul Cunningham, dean of the medical school, told the students’ families and other guests. It also symbolically bonds the students with the institution’s established medical professionals, he said. “This is a historic occasion,” Cunningham said. “We now have multiple generations of students who have entered our school, having achieved what some once considered an impossible mission.” “These students have the excellent academic credentials necessary to satisfy our admissions committee, but beyond that they have the right character to represent our school and profession,” Cunningham said. “I am confident they will do as well or better than any other class we have welcomed to Brody.”
Dr. David Collier, class of 2001 graduate and president of the school’s alumni association, spoke about some of the privileges and responsibilities associated with the students’ education at Brody. “You have been offered one of only 80 seats in the class of 2016. The lion’s share of the cost is borne by the people of North Carolina... so you will not have the kind of debt that will prevent you from pursuing a career that will allow you to service your debt. For this privilege, you have the responsibility to do your best and give back to the state and the institution,” Collier said. While not required to eventually practice medicine in any particular place, Brody’s students know the school’s three-fold mission to increase the supply of primary care physicians to serve the state, to improve the health of citizens in eastern North Carolina and to enhance the access of minority and disadvantaged students to a medical education. The school’s mission gives it an advantage in the period following this year’s passage of the Affordable Care Act because its students are already focused on the efficient delivery of primary health care, Collier said. “That’s what this school is all about and very good at. It meets the needs of the new health care funding system,” Collier said. “There’s an old joke at the school that if you interview here, you need to say that you like people and hate money, and in every joke there’s an element of truth, but I’m absolutely glad I made the choice I did,” Collier said.
The entering students said they felt the same way. “I feel fantastic here at the beginning and the end of a very long journey,” student Steven Nunns of Fayetteville said. “Of course, I’m a little nervous. I would be worried about someone who isn’t nervous about what we’re about to do.” Holly Dieu of Charlotte said she and the other students would have to get used to changes related to the new ACA health care law, but viewed them in a positive light. “I think it’s going to be amazing, and because ECU is focused on reaching out to the community, we all want to make health care more affordable for people. The Affordable Care Act will help us do that. It will be interesting to see how the delivery of health care changes during the next three years,” Dieu said.
Assistant professor of internal medicine and keynote speaker Dr. Mark Bowling said Brody’s graduates always have met the challenges of their profession. “Today’s ceremony is about making a commitment to the sacred principles that define who we are as physicians and medicine as a science. I know this class will go on to be a great reflection of the fine education they receive here,” Bowling said. Cunningham said the Brody School of Medicine has aspirations to expand the school to accommodate future classes up to 120 students, but that will require development of partnerships throughout the region. Contact Michael Abramowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-329-9571.