ANN ARBOR, Mich. - The University of Michigan Medical School will host commencement exercises at 5 p.m. May 8 at Hill Auditorium, 825 North University. Sanjay Gupta, M.D., chief CNN medical correspondent and former candidate for U.S. Surgeon General, will give the keynote address to 161 graduates, their families and guests.
"This is an outstanding class of well-trained new physicians with amazing accomplishments, stellar achievements, and diverse talents who have demonstrated compassion and excellence during their medical education," says Associate Dean for Student Programs Elizabeth Petty, M.D.
Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Afffairs Teresa A. Sullivan, Ph.D., will convene the commencement and Medical School Dean James O. Woolliscroft, M.D.,
will preside over the ceremony.
The U-M Medical School is a world-class institution that's led the way in developing a science-based curriculum and has a long history of translating laboratory discoveries into improvements in patient care. It is consistently ranked among the nation's best, and continues to strive for a global impact.
The guest speaker is an alumnus of both the University of Michigan and its Medical School. Gupta earned his medical degree at U-M in 1993, and completed his neurosurgery residency in 2000 at the University of Michigan Health System.
Gupta continues his work as a practicing neurosurgeon and assistant professor of neurosurgery at the Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta while creating Emmy-winning stories for CNN.
He has reported on the September 11 attacks in New York City, the war in Iraq and Kuwait, the tsunami in Sri Lanka, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and most recently the evolving swine flu conditions in Mexico City.
In 1997 he was chosen as a White House Fellow, acting as special advisor on health related issues to first lady Hillary Clinton. His first book, Chasing Life, was released in the spring of 2007 and has since become a national bestseller.
This year's graduating class of 161 seniors will go on to work in hospitals from the University of California Medical Center - Los Angeles to Brigham and Women's Hospital in Massachusetts, and the Naval Hospital in Pensacola, Fla., to the University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers in Ann Arbor.
"The next generation of physicians to provide cutting-edge care for individuals and communities, make innovative discoveries that improve the health and well-being of individuals globally, create health care policies to ensure affordable access to the best therapies, and lead the future of medical education, will emerge from this UMMS 2009 class," Petty says.
Nearly 40 percent of the 2009 graduating class will do at least one year of residency at a hospital in the state of Michigan. Approximately 20 percent of the physicians educated at the University of Michigan Medical School will stay at the University to complete their residency training.
Mark Samaan, 25, of Troy, is staying in Michigan for residency training. He was inspired to study medicine after spending part of his undergraduate career volunteering in various medical environments outside the hospital -- at migrant health clinics along the Arizona-Mexico border, an eight-week summer medical outreach project in Kenya, volunteering at Valley Hospice and working for two years in a group home for teenagers with neurological and mental disabilities.
During the summer of his junior year in college, Samaan traveled with 11 other students from the United States to a rural area of Kenya.
"It has been my passion to serve others in a third-world country," says Samaan. "With the opportunity to volunteer abroad, I was anxious to see the difference in the way that health care is practiced, especially with limited resources."
The students were able to establish a low-cost, basic health care facility in Kubula, Kenya, presented AIDS education in schools and community groups, volunteered at local hospitals, and helped staff mobile clinics.
Samaan learned firsthand how societal, political and cultural issues affect the practice of health care and looks forward to using these skills as he moves forward with his medical training in Emergency Medicine at Henry Ford Heath Systems.
The inspiration and journey to medicine has been unique for each student. Close to one-third of the class will enter primary care residency programs with the others finding their niche in a wide range of specialties from anesthesiology to urology.
Meet other members of the 2009 class:
Hometown: Kalamazoo, Mich.
Undergraduate degree: University of Michigan
Residency: Stanford University
Palanca's cousin died from leukemia after a three-year battle against the disease. Palanca was extremely close with her cousin and spent a lot of time at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, where he was treated. Palanca still remembers his amazing team of doctors and nurses and hoped that one day she would be wearing that white coat and help patients like her cousin.
During her time at Michigan, Palanca did a rotation at St. Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne, Australia, in anesthesiology. During this rotation she was exposed to different philosophies of surgery and anesthetics. She hopes to do a fellowship abroad in the future because she thinks there is much to learn beyond the scope of medicine in the United States.
Upon graduation, Palanca will journey to California to complete her residency at Stanford University, practicing orthopedic surgery. As a former athlete, she has a strong connection with orthopedic sports patients, and says it is wonderful to give an athlete the gift of returning to their sport. What Palanca enjoys about orthopedics is that it is one specialty where a physician can actually fix a patient's problem with his or her hands. She looks forward to learning from her patients.
She says, "Patients are our greatest teachers, and they are the reason I became a doctor in the first place. Though each patient is unique, each interaction is a learning experience that prepares me to be a better physician for my next patient."
Glen Cook Jr.
Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
Undergraduate degree: University of Utah
Residency: Naval Medical Center
As a naval officer, Glen Cook Jr. will take a different journey than most. After graduation, he will go to the Naval Medical Center in San Diego for an internal medicine preliminary year. This year will be followed by six months training in undersea and hyperbaric medicine, after which he will complete an operational tour as a Navy Dive Medical Officer. Finally, he will return to residency for three years of training in neurology.
Cook was inspired to go into medicine because it affords him the opportunity to have a career in which he can help other people and continue to learn throughout his life.
Family plays an important role in Cook's life, Both of his children were born while he was in medical school. His wife and oldest son accompanied him on a month-long clinical clerkship in undersea medicine in Norfolk and Little Creek, Va. During his fourth year of medical school, his wife and two sons accompanied him on two rotations spent at other hospitals.
During his time in Ann Arbor, he volunteered with a local Boy Scout troop and has had the chance to camp with the troop year round. He says, "The zero-degree nights in four-foot deep snow are the ones that really toughen a person up."
Cook is also grateful for the opportunity to serve as a personal assistant to Lowell Fisher, Ph.D., one of the University's anatomy professors. Fisher has advanced multiple sclerosis and is quadriplegic. Cook says that Fisher's example of constant gratitude and positive outlook has had a profound effect on his life.
Hometown: Urbana, Ill.
Undergraduate degree: Kenyon College
Residency: University of Michigan Health System
Kirst wasn't someone who always knew she wanted to be a doctor. Her mother, a minister, often talked about the experience of being invited into peoples' lives during the most intimate and powerful moments and how grateful she was for the opportunity.
"I think that influenced me a great deal," says Kirst. "I had fallen in love with the sciences in high school and majored in biochemistry in college, but I had no plans at all to go to medical school."
During her senior year of college, Kirst took the MCAT and, after a year of teaching high school, decided to go to medical school. While Kirst loved teaching, she loved the idea of practicing medicine and realized that what she loved about teaching could be realized in a career in medicine.
As a resident, she will be working in the Department of Family Medicine at the U-M Health System. She believes the wonder of teaching is that even though it's your job to teach your students, they're always teaching you. The same is true for medicine: Teaching and learning and healing just goes in all directions.
Hometown: Akron, Ohio
Undergraduate degree: Princeton University
Residency: Johns Hopkins
Followed by a year spent interning in Michigan, Elbuluk will enter on one of the most competitive residency programs in the country -- dermatology. She hopes to make a difference in her patients' lives by treating and curing their skin conditions.
Elbuluk has always loved working with people and feels that the exposure to the diverse patient population at Johns Hopkins will be very useful for treating all skin types in the future. At a young age, Elbuluk had the opportunity to shadow several physicians. Her previous experiences, her passion for the sciences as well as her time spent volunteering and working at hospitals, solidified her desire to go into medicine.
Elbuluk is interested in academic dermatology, and believes that training at a strong academic center will be excellent preparation for her career ambitions. She hopes that with clinical and translational research, she can help advance the field of dermatology. She hopes the research will lead to an increased understanding of the many dermatologic conditions for which better treatments are still needed.
The mission of the U-M Medical School is to educate students, physicians, and biomedical scholars and to provide a spectrum of comprehensive knowledge, research, patient care and service of the highest quality to the people of the State of Michigan and beyond.
Written by Shantell M. Kirkendoll and Jessica Brown