|Keynote speaker Dr. Donald Wesson, vice dean at Texas A&M University College of Medicine, urged graduates to lead change in medicine, not just manage it.|
Graduates Encouraged to Lead and Better the World
A picture-perfect day greeted the members of the Class of 2008 as they gathered on Chicago’s Navy Pier for the Feinberg School of Medicine’s graduation convocation. The warm temps of this May 16 ceremony had many of the 1,400 family members and friends in attendance busy snapping photos of the new grads against the backdrop of Lake Michigan and the city skyline.
Presiding over his first Northwestern graduation as Lewis Landsberg Dean of the Feinberg School, J. Larry Jameson, MD, PhD, welcomed the 168 individuals who joyfully participated in the “pomp and circumstance” of the day. While the program was devoted to recognizing the achievements of the graduates, it began by honoring faculty member Vinky Chadha, MD, assistant professor of medicine. This 1991 medical school alumnus received the 2008 George H. Joost award for outstanding teaching.
Donald E. Wesson, MD, professor of medicine and vice dean at Texas A&M University College of Medicine, presented the keynote address on “Leadership in Medicine: Society’s Need, Our Opportunity.” He congratulated the graduates on joining what he described as one of the most glorious and rewarding of professions and urged them to live up to society’s expectations of physicians as caregivers and leaders.
“You are about to enter a wonderful profession that is going through tremendous change. Change that you as a medical professional will have to manage,” remarked Dr. Wesson. “Rather than simply managing it, I challenge you to lead that change.
Dr. Wesson encouraged the new graduates to consider how—from motives to methods—they will serve as leaders, as others will follow their example. He said, “Those around us listen to what we say and often do what we do even if we are not conscious that our behaviors are being watched and followed.” Physicians should not take lightly these “unconsciously” taught lessons and the influence they have on their communities through their own conduct, according to Dr. Wesson.
Delivering the senior class message, David I. Rosenthal, MD ’08, of Miami reflected on the epic journey that he and his fellow classmates embarked upon four years ago. They possessed “minimal knowledge of the voyage ahead” and the waters they would explore. He likened their new white coats to a very short life jacket that would soon be fortified by one of the most crucial tenets of the medical profession: first, do no harm.
Now with more knowledge and skills, the Class of 2008 can move forward to different challenges on the next part of their journey. As they look ahead to new horizons, Dr. Rosenthal urged the graduating seniors to not forget their commitment to the moral enterprise of medicine.
“We have a moral responsibility to act in the best interest of our patients even as our giant health care system becomes more difficult to figure out and our view becomes more focused and specialized,” he said. “As we span out across the country, we must constantly strive to better the world around us, advocate for those who need assistance, and be leaders in our communities.”