Student triumph amid extraordinarily challenging times
The U is back in OHSU!
Thousands of graduating health professions students, loved ones, university leaders, staff and faculty converged on the Oregon Convention Center for the 2022 OHSU Convocation and Hooding Ceremonies after a two-year hiatus, many wearing masks against still-spreading illness and with strict COVID-19 vaccination or negative-PCR-test protocols in place.
Led by bagpipe players, graduation-gowned students in the OHSU Schools of Dentistry, Medicine and Nursing, the OHSU-OSU College of Pharmacy and the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health processed into the cavernous exhibit hall shortly after 1 p.m.
OHSU President Danny Jacobs, M.D., carrying the ceremonial mace, brought up the rear with his entourage of Interim Provost David Robinson, School of Dentistry Dean Ron Sakaguchi, Interim School of Medicine Dean David Jacoby, School of Nursing Dean Susan Bakewell-Sachs, College of Pharmacy Interim Dean David Bearden and School of Public Health Dean David Bangsberg.
“It’s been an interesting and extraordinarily challenging time to be educated—especially in health and science,” Dr. Jacobs said. “One of the hardest parts of the pandemic was how much we didn’t know – especially in the beginning… We seek knowledge and thirst for information. But what happens when we don’t have the knowledge to answer the hard questions, or the experience to know what to expect? (Yet) there is also a power in the unknown. It drives us to find the answers. I encourage you to stay curious and allow that curiosity to propel you to find answers and act; to welcome the unknown as an opportunity for new discovery.”
Convocation leads off the day
In all, OHSU conferred 1,162 degrees to students across the five schools. The afternoon began with convocation, presided over by Interim Provost Robinson, and was followed by separate hooding ceremonies by academic program.
Donn Spight, M.D., professor of surgery, OHSU School of Medicine, and co-chair of the OHSU Vaccine Equity Committee (VEC), gave the keynote address at Convocation.
He told of flying to Portland fresh from his surgery residency in Cincinnati in 2006, when an urgent plea for a doctor to assist a passenger in first class came over the public address system. He mustered his courage and reviewed emergency medical protocols in his head while making his way forward, only to be intercepted by the stewardess, who, seeing the young, casually dressed Black man coming toward her, assumed he was just a passenger picking that moment to use the first-class bathroom.
“We need you to keep the aisles clear,” she told him. “We are calling for a doctor!”
He interwove those experiences with his reverence for OHSU’s blossoming health equity work and the transformative efforts of the Vaccine Equity Committee to ensure that all Oregonians have access to COVID-19 vaccines, and circled back to the stewardess’ chagrin and apology and the passenger’s survival, attended to by Dr. Spight for follow-up care after an emergency landing in Wyoming.
“Thankfully under the leadership of Dr. Jacobs and many others, OHSU is moving in a direction to reject racism and discrimination in all of its forms,” Dr. Spight said. “This is showing up not only in the academic spaces but also within the work of the health system. The activist and writer James Baldwin once said, ‘Not everything that is faced can be changed but nothing can be changed without being faced.’”
The OHSU School of Medicine holds two hooding ceremonies, one for students receiving their M.D. degree and one for Graduate Studies Program students receiving Ph.D.’s, master’s and bachelor’s degrees and certificates. The largest of all the OHSU schools, the School of Medicine awarded a total of 450 degrees this year.
The elation of the students and acknowledgement of their loved ones as the students processed into their ceremonies was palpable and triumphant, a moment to savor after such an arduous journey. Speakers gave meaning to the day and offered advice to the graduating students.
The OHSU School of Medicine Graduate Studies Hooding Ceremony
Monica Hinds, Ph.D., professor of biomedical engineering and assistant dean for graduate student affairs, led the ceremony and Abby Dotson, Ph.D., ’16, research assistant professor of emergency medicine, gave the alumni welcome. Additional remarks included:
“Though we are here to celebrate your remarkable success, I would be remiss if I did not challenge each one of you as you enter the next phase of your career. You are smart and talented. You hold great promise. But I will posit that the variable that you most control is your own personal effort. Keep at it, don’t quit on a bad day, and persist! Because grit is what will make the greatest difference in your life – and by extension – the lives of those you love and in the communities you serve.” - George Mejicano, M.D., M.S., Senior Associate Dean for Education, OHSU School of Medicine, Dean’s Message
“I’d like to share a few personal stories about unexpected gifts I received by saying ‘Yes,’ and suggest that you, too, are destined to receive countless unexpected gifts by saying, ‘Yes.’ Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, I, like many, volunteered at OHSU’s Portland Airport vaccine clinic. I was assigned to direct traffic as drivers and passengers left the waiting area after their vaccines. I made eye contact as they exited the lot. Together, we clapped, high-fived, punched the air, and celebrated their ability to be vaccinated against a very insidious and, at the time, poorly understood virus. I represented OHSU and was compensated by signs of explicit joy, relief, and confidence by people who trusted us, trusted OHSU, as caregivers to protect them.” – Diane Stadler, Ph.D., Director of Graduate Programs in Human Nutrition
“The desire to help, to improve our communities, is the common thread connecting the diverse collection of academic interests and degrees that make up Graduate Studies in the OHSU School of Medicine. Our shared desire to make things better makes us part of a team, a team calling for social justice, each in our own way, so we can close the ever-widening gap between the privileged and the disadvantaged. I encourage you to embrace the challenge, not just as scholars or practitioners in your fields, but as responsible members of the society who can be bold and courageous agents of change.” – Jeanne Sutter, Master’s Degree Student Speaker, Food Systems and Society
“At the beginning of my journey, I thought that graduate school was a series of checkpoints, milestones, all laid out for us in a nice linear fashion. That is in fact NOT how it goes. Graduate school is a journey, full of ups and downs and hairpin turns that leave you wondering which way is forward and questioning if you’re facing towards the finish line or back at the beginning again. I will share some things I’ve learned along the way:
- Say yes to opportunities and just follow the science.
- Surround yourself with others who see potential in you, who see the best in you and who will fight for you!
- Don’t be afraid of failure.”
– Zoe Lyski, Ph.D. Student Speaker, Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
The OHSU School of Medicine Doctor of Medicine Hooding Ceremony
Tracy Bumsted, M.D., M.P.H., professor of pediatrics and associate dean for undergraduate medical education, led the ceremony. Alumni remarks were given by Jeffrey Fullman, M.D., ’80, president of the OHSU School of Medicine Alumni Association. Additional remarks included:
“The COVID pandemic required major changes in your education, and I congratulate you for having persisted. At the same time, we’ve learned a huge amount about medicine, and about ourselves. My father was a physician, and when he was a medical student, one of his professors taught all of clinical medicine by starting with typhoid, then discussing the complications of typhoid, then the complications of the complications of typhoid, and so on. I can’t help thinking that COVID provided us with a similar opportunity to learn about medicine, about medical science, and about ourselves and our society.” – Interim Dean David Jacoby, M.D., Dean’s Message
“At its core, our job as physician is about hope. We wake up each day and dedicate ourselves to the care of the sick, the injured, the vulnerable and the dying… It is so easy to forget in the shuffle of Compass modules, EPIC trainings, RVU calculations and insurance pre-authorizations. It is so easy to become a cog in the machine that is US healthcare. Resist that pressure. Resist the pressure to bend to the storms around you. Bring hope to your patients. Bring hope to your colleagues. Bring hope to your family. Shine the light and show us how bright the future is... Four thoughts about how to be a physician, bring hope to your patients and shine the light to the world:
- Build and nurture relationships.
- Every day find out something new about one patient.
- Every day say something nice to a member of the hospital staff.
- Say thank you to your patients for their trust.”
- MacKenzie Cook, M.D., Assistant Professor of Surgery, The Edward J. Keenan Faculty Speaker for Undergraduate Medical Education
“With our privilege of earning a medical degree comes the responsibility to use this position to advocate for and evoke systems change. Systems -- whether educational, political or medical -- were created by humans and can be reimagined by humans. I acknowledge that this reimagination may create conflict. Yet, in the words of author Mimi Zhu, conflict can be generative. It reveals what no longer feels acceptable. Conflict invites depth and encourages one to put the sticky, complex and liberating act of honesty into practice. So as we move within these systems, I encourage you always wear your analytical hat and ask yourself: ‘Who or what was not in mind when this policy/practice/system was designed and implemented?’” – Taylor Vega, M.D. Class of 2022, Medical Student Message
OHSU School of Medicine – 450 total degrees and certificates
Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) – 149
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) – 52:
- Behavioral Neuroscience – 7
- Biochemistry & Molecular Biology – 1
- Biomedical Engineering – 11
- Biomedical Informatics – 4
- Cancer Biology – 5
- Cell & Developmental Biology – 2
- Computer Science & Engineering – 2
- Health & Clinical Informatics – 1
- Microbiology – 3
- Molecular & Medical Genetics – 2
- Neuroscience – 10
- Physiology & Pharmacology – 4
Master’s degrees – 153:
- Master of Business Administration – 31
- Master of Clinical Research – 13
- Master of Physician Assistant Studies – 40
- Master of Science in Bioinformatics & Computational Biomedicine – 7
- Master of Science in Computer Science & Engineering – 4
- Master of Science in Food Systems & Society – 7
- Master of Science in Health & Clinical Informatics – 16
- Master of Science in Healthcare Management – 26
- Master of Science in Human Nutrition – 4
- Master of Science in Medical Physics – 5
Graduate certificates – 29:
- Dietetic Internship – 8
- Health & Clinical Informatics – 8
- Human Investigations Program – 13
Bachelor’s degrees – 47:
- Bachelor of Science in Emergency Medicine Service Management – 3
- Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science – 35
- Bachelor of Science in Radiation Therapy – 9
Associate of Applied Science in Paramedic – 20