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New M.D./M.P.H. Students Welcomed to ‘the Most Fulfilling Discipline’

The ambitious students who will earn an M.D. and an M.P.H. at the University of Miami over the next four years arrived on campus this week to an enthusiastic welcome from new Dean Henri R. Ford, M.D., MHA, who invited them to join him in “living the dream” at the Miller School of Medicine.

Dean Henri R. Ford addresses the new M.D./M.P.H. students.

“Our profession is perhaps the most noble, the most exciting, the most exhilarating and the most fulfilling discipline anyone can pursue,” Ford said. “Very few professions if any can boast the impact you can have on human life.

“We are here to help you fulfill your greatest dreams, to help you become the best physicians that you can be,” he said. “You will need to demonstrate determination, a strong commitment to hard work, and uncompromising pursuit of excellence.”

Ford and the education deans all emphasized to the students the importance of asking for help when they need it. A strong support system exists to help solve academic and personal challenges during the complicated, fast-paced journey of medical school.

“Although everyone here is a super achiever, never before have you confronted the volume of material that you’ll be expected to master in a relatively short time,” said Ford, who is a pediatric surgeon. “Your well-being is our first priority. At the Miller School we have developed a number of support systems and resources to help you cope effectively throughout the four years.”

“The admissions committee did not make a mistake,” Dean Ford said to laughter. “You truly represent the very finest students that our finest universities have to offer. Therefore we expect that you are going to not only excel, you are going to thrive and accomplish great things.”

Laurence B. Gardner, M.D., executive dean for education and policy, told the new class that faculty and students were thrilled when Ford accepted the UM position. “His work for the underprivileged and other populations at risk is inspiring, and he has done things that make us all proud that he’s now here as our leader,” Gardner said. “He reminds us in his career of why many of us went into this profession.”

Gardner talked about the extraordinary opportunity to learn at the University of Miami and Jackson Memorial Hospital, one of the few remaining large public teaching hospitals serving people who often have no other choice for health care. Gardner came to the medical center 45 years ago because of that opportunity. “The excitement of working at UM and Jackson hasn’t changed,” he said. “With the exception of a handful of other institutions, it’s truly unique.”

J. Sunil Rao, Ph.D., professor and interim chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences, congratulated the students on getting to this point. “You’re here to expand what you’re going to be learning in medical school to understand how to make a bigger impact on individuals, the communities they come from, and eventually population health as a whole,” he said.

He encouraged them to take advantage of the many project opportunities and the renowned faculty. “It’s really up to you to make this the most exciting period of your life. We’re here to be catalysts,” he said. “And we want to learn from you. Every year as every cohort goes through, we learn something about ourselves and our field.”

Medical school is a transformative experience, said Alex J. Mechaber, M.D., senior associate dean for undergraduate medical education. “But you’re also going to have the opportunity to transform medicine as we know it. In fact, we’re counting on it.”

Mechaber reinforced the message that the faculty and staff are here to help with the “winding roads and twists and turns and curve balls thrown your way” on the journey through medical school.

“The Miller School is really a family,” Mechaber said. “It’s the culture of our institution, and that’s something I’m proud of.

“The world is really yours, and the future of medicine is so much brighter with you in it.”

Tags: Alex Mechaber, Henri Ford, Laurence Gardner, M.D./M.P.H.