Hosted by Doctor Mike and featuring Anthony Fauci, MD; CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH; AMA President Jack Resneck Jr., MD; and many more! Some of the nation’s most prominent names in medicine share words of advice, encouragement and inspiration for new graduates.
Mike Varshavski, DO
- Anthony Fauci, MD, former director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and chief medical adviser to the president
- Ashish Jha, MD, MPH, White House COVID-19 response coordinator
- Rochelle Walensky, MD, MPH, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Robert Califf, MD, commissioner of Food and Drug Administration
- Adm. Rachel Levine, MD, assistant secretary of health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Peter Hotez, MD, PhD, dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine, professor of pediatrics and molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine, and co-inventor of the Corbevax SARS-CoV-2 vaccine
- Jack Resneck Jr., MD, AMA president, professor and chair of the dermatology department at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine
- Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, MD, chair, AMA Board of Trustees and former president of the American College of Physicians
- Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, PhD, MD, MAS, editor-in-chief of JAMA® and JAMA Network.
Dr. Varshavski: Welcome, graduating medical students, proud parents, grandparents and families. And a special welcome to my colleagues, the physicians of America. Thank you so much for joining the American Medical Association on this very special night as we celebrate, honor and pay tribute to the tremendous accomplishments of the next generation of physicians, the medical school class of 2023.
I'm Dr. Mike, and I'll be your host for the evening. You may know me from my YouTube channel, but I'm also a practicing family physician. Like many of you, I knew I wanted to be a doctor from a young age. I actually watched my father go through medical school a second time after we emigrated here to the U.S. Can you imagine, twice? And then after watching that, I decided, yeah, I want to do that.
It's probably unlikely that any of you went through medical school twice, but you did do something that no other practicing physicians have done so far. You made it through medical school during a global pandemic that touched every single year of your training. You were M1s when the world shut down, hospitals were overrun and physicians around the world were thrown into chaos and facing challenges we could never have imagined.
No one would have blamed you if at any point you said, “Uh, yeah, I'm out.” But the fact that you are here today means you didn't do that. You stayed. You studied. You worked hard. You persevered and leaned in to becoming a doctor, knowing the challenges you may face, and that is worth celebrating. And know that as an intern, you will continue to use that inner strength and sheer determination to help you find places to sleep you never knew existed.
But seriously, I am excited to welcome you to the best profession there is. They say that medicine is only for those who can't imagine doing anything else and I can tell you that's absolutely true. And with that, let's kick off our celebration.
I am pleased to introduce the president of the AMA, Dr. Jack Resneck Jr., a dermatologist, joining us from the AMA's Chicago headquarters to offer his words of encouragement and support to the nearly 27,000 medical school graduates across the country.
Dr. Resneck: Hello graduates, and greetings to all the special people in your lives who are sharing this moment with you. I'm Jack Resneck, president of the American Medical Association, and on behalf of the AMA, I say congratulations and welcome.
You are entering this noble profession at an interesting and challenging time. Physicians have a lot on our shoulders. There are external pressures on health care like never before, but I know you're ready. And with the love and support of your close friends, your families, and all those who've helped you along your journey, you're about to leave your mark on medicine.
Despite the challenges we face today, I know that physicians and aspiring physicians offer our best hope to create a future for health care that we all want. A system that is accessible and affordable to all who need it. A system that is equitable for all patients, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender identity or sexual orientation. A system where patients have the insurance coverage they need to live longer and healthier. A system where physicians aren't burdened by excessive demands and can focus all our attention on our patients. A system that values and respects everyone and where everyone can achieve their optimal health. A system where government and politicians don't try to interfere in the conversations and decisions that should be made between physicians and our patients.
This isn't yet the system we have but it's the system the AMA and our allies and organized medicine are fighting for. And we could not do this work without you. Your years in medical school came during a time of great disruption for our country and the practice of medicine, but you have persevered and now you're ready to take that next important step in your career.
Know that the AMA stands by you today and every day. We are your powerful ally in patient care, supporting you today as you make your transition into residency and protecting your future as a physician.
Change is constant in medicine as it is in life. And while it's impossible to predict exactly what health care challenges will face in the years to come, you can be confident that some things will never change, your character, your compassion, your drive to serve humanity, and your dedication to science and evidence-based medicine.
The same qualities that helped you through medical school and a time of historic uncertainty are the qualities that you will lean on for the remainder of your journey. You've got this. And you have a multitude of supporters and allies in your corner cheering you on every step of the way. So congratulations and enjoy your celebration today.
Dr. Varshavski: Thank you, Dr. Resneck, for those words of support. Next, I am so honored to welcome a physician who really needs no introduction. This is someone who I happen to feel a special bond with, not only because we hail from the same area in Brooklyn, but we've both broken significant barriers by replacing TV doctors with real doctors in People magazine's Sexiest Man Alive issues.
Though I have never achieved the ultimate goal of having Brad Pitt play me on a famous Saturday night television show, and this physician has. Please welcome Dr. Anthony Fauci, a true pioneer in the profession and the man who has quite literally become the face of medicine.
Dr. Fauci: Greetings, everyone. This is Tony Fauci here in Washington, DC, and it gives me great pleasure to express my sincerest congratulations and best wishes to all of you on the occasion of your graduation from medical school, one of the most important landmarks in your professional and even your personal lives.
There are many commonalities between my experience and medical school and yours, what we call the immutable elements of our profession that transcends eras. I refer to learning that you must be guided by integrity, unselfishness, perseverance, inquisitiveness and a compelling thirst for knowledge, with the patient as the focus and beneficiary of all that you do professionally, be you a health care professional or a basic scientist. These are the critical and enduring components of the tradition and history of our profession.
Nonetheless, elements of your experience have differed substantially from mine. And although they were at times painful and disruptive in some ways, you are better off for them. During almost your entire medical school experience, you have witnessed and bravely and effectively functioned through one of the most devastating pandemics in recorded history. The cloud of the COVID-19 pandemic under which to some extent we continue to live has disrupted your educational experience in profoundly unique and unprecedented ways. Clearly this historic pandemic will leave an indelible mark on your entire generation.
However, the fact that you've successfully navigated each hurdle the pandemic has put in your way, just to have gotten to where you are today, is a testimony to your resilience, your resolve and your strength of character. And so, you deserve enormous respect for your adaptability and dedication to completing your medical studies and graduating amidst immense difficulties and uncertainties.
The beauty of our shared profession, something that I appreciate and experience to this very day 57 years after my own graduation from medical school in 1966, is the fact that besides the noble calling of preventing and alleviating disease, which each of you will do directly or indirectly, in whatever pathway of medicine you choose you will have the excitement of continuing to learn and improve yourself in one of the most dynamic and rewarding professions imaginable.
Today you understandably assume that you are no longer a student, which in the classic sense you are not. However, you are now a different type of student, namely one who hopefully will continue to learn and co-evolve in a field as dynamic or more dynamic as any other profession.
Although you've differentiated to some extent by completing one phase of your professional life, graduation from medical school, you certainly are not fully differentiated. And that will be part of the excitement in the form of almost unlimited opportunities that will come your way. It will be up to you to pick and choose what future pathway you will follow. It will be challenging, at times stressful, but always rewarding. That is the nature of our profession. Good luck and Godspeed.
Dr. Varshavski: Dr. Fauci, you continue to be a true inspiration even in retirement. This next segment is something that recognizes what we all to be true, you don't make this journey alone. While all of you are outstanding in your own way, we've decided to take this opportunity to recognize those you told us were truly exceptional. These are students whose peers believe they are outstanding medical students of 2023.
Siddiqui: My name is Aliya Siddiqui. I am a medical student at the Medical College of Wisconsin and I'm hoping to become an interventional radiologist. I was interested in math and statistics. I also wanted to see the impact I had on society, so I applied to medical school, got into medical school, and realized I could both do research while also delivering care and seeing those results on society. And that was honestly why I got involved with the American Medical Association.
So my good friend, Samantha Pavlock, we met in the American Medical Association, and we were writing a resolution together. We've partnered on a lot of resolutions and reports. So I guess my journey through organized medicine has been really influenced by Sam. Sam has also just been a great personal friend. I know that we both kind of have conflict within our families and so we will often bounce that off each other. Families don't realize what medical training is like. There's a lot of questions, especially why you have to miss so many important life events when you're in your training. You don't get weekends off.
I think one other thing we've connected over is being a woman in medicine in general. When do you plan to have kids? And you know parents always want to have grandchildren, or at least mine do. We will call each other and bounce off of each other like, oh, how did you navigate this conversation with your parents? Because I don't know what to do or say.
Congratulations, Sam. I'm so excited for you to start your residency at Wake Forest to see how your career blossoms in these upcoming years. Thank you for helping inspire me, mentor me, and mentor so many other people. And I'm sure you will continue to do that. And just wanted to thank you from the bottom of my heart and all of our hearts for that service.
Dr. Varshavski: We are now joined by another physician leader, AMA Board Chair Dr. Sandra Fryhofer to share her congratulations and words of encouragement.
Dr. Fryhofer: Greetings to all our new graduates. I'm so excited for you and many thanks to everyone who's helped you and supported you in your journey along the way. I'm Dr. Sandra Fryhofer, AMA board chair, and I join Dr. Resneck in sending you congratulations and warm wishes from everyone at the AMA.
A graduation is a milestone achievement, and nobody gets there by themselves. We rely on friends, family, parents, professors, mentors, spouses, partners and all those people who've enriched our lives with their love and encouragement.
Your residency years will be some of the most challenging and rewarding years of your life. You will learn, you will laugh, you will cry. You will also make meaningful connections with colleagues and patients alike. And you will become the physician you've trained so hard to be. But like medical school, nobody gets through residency without love and support from those around them and without the support of organizations like the American Medical Association, which is here for you through every success and setback and through all the ups and downs that come with this journey.
The AMA is your powerful ally in patient care, which means we're working day and night to make your job a little easier and even more rewarding, to help you deliver the very best care to your patients and to remove all those obstacles that stand in your way. We are dedicated to this work, and AMA is working as tirelessly as you are to improve the health of our communities and the nation.
So, congratulations. You've earned this special day, and we commend you for all that you've accomplished and for the positive difference you will make in our profession and in the lives of your patients.
Dr. Varshavski: As some of you may know, I started documenting my experience becoming a doctor on social media some 10 years ago. I've always had a thing for busting myths. And as a young physician, I saw a gap in the medical media space that I wanted to fill. During the pandemic, we saw many other physicians also fill important and at times lifesaving gaps.
Please welcome Dr. Peter Hotez, one of two individuals nominated for the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize for their research and vaccine development of Corbevax.
Dr. Hotez: Hello, I'm Peter Hotez from Baylor College of Medicine, and I want to congratulate you for getting your doctoral medicine degree. This is a very exciting time for the class of 2023. With an MD degree, there are so many important things you can do. Of course, you're critically important medical practice but also thinking about setting big audacious goals for yourself. For instance, when I got my medical degree, I set out with an ambitious goal of making vaccines for the world.
And now in this COVID pandemic, our Texas Children's Hospital Center for Vaccine Development has made a vaccine technology for India and Indonesia. One hundred million doses have reached children and adults in those countries. And that's the kind of thing you can do with your medical degree, not only to provide for yourselves and your families but to actually change the world.
So my charge to you is think about what success will look like for you in 10 to 15 years. And what big problem do you want to solve? Because you have the unique ability to do that with your medical degree. I'm so proud of your accomplishments, and I look forward to hearing big things from you.
Dr. Varshavski: Here and throughout this program are some words of inspiration from some of the most notable physicians in your community. First, it is my sincere pleasure to introduce you to America's doctor, our 21st Surgeon General Vice Admiral Dr. Vivek Murthy, followed by Admiral Rachel Levine, the HHS secretary for health.
Dr. Murthy: I'm Dr. Vivek Murthy, surgeon general of the United States, and I'm proud to join the American Medical Association, your friends, family and loved ones and admirers across the country in saying congratulations to you, the medical school class of 2023. Each of you graduating today has so much to be proud of, not only because you completed medical school but because of how you did it.
You had to navigate medical training during the worst pandemic our nation has seen in a century. Many of you went from learning in the classroom to learning on Zoom. In the hospital, you had to suit up in protective gear, try to explain COVID to frightened patients and families, and comfort those same families when they could not be present to hold their loved ones’ hands.
You had to do all of this knowing that you were putting yourselves at risk of getting sick as well, yet you continue to show up day after day because even though you had to take the Hippocratic Oath, you had already begun to live up to its call, to serve those who are suffering and in need.
Moments of crisis, they often reveal our character. And in this crisis, you showed us who you are—caring, dedicated and brave. As you now enter the medical profession, I want you to know that those very qualities, qualities you each possess long before you began your medical education, are the most important qualities that you need to be a healer.
More so than the amount of grant funding you've been awarded or how big your office is or how many papers you've published, it is your ability to care deeply for others, to listen compassionately and to lead with love. That will be your greatest strength in the years ahead.
You are about to join a sacred family of healers, healers who for generations have stepped up to face the great challenges of their era, from smallpox and yellow fever to polio and now COVID-19. Healers who sought to shape society not only with the power of their knowledge but also with the strength of their values. As society's newest leaders, the choice of what kind of society to build and the choice of how to lead now begins with you.
So I hope you choose to keep leading every day with care, dedication, empathy, bravery, kindness and love. That's how we can build a society that is vibrant, inclusive and strong. That's how we can create a society where we are all healthier. Congratulations class of 2023. I wish each of you a happy, fulfilled and joyful career.
Dr. Levine: I would like to congratulate the medical school graduating class of 2023. Public health and effective medical treatment are the center of public awareness today. The COVID-19 pandemic has thrust the importance of medicine and public health right into the spotlight. You are now part of that effort, and I thank you.
In many ways, you are beginning long careers of public service. I congratulate you on all of the work that you've done and the work that you are going to do in the future. How you apply your education will help define the health and quality of life of our nation. Our society will call on you again and again to help answer some of the biggest questions of our lifetimes. How can we best protect human life in a world facing serious climate change and environmental injustice? How can we best respond to the spread of infectious diseases? How do we ensure that everyone living in this country is able to access the health care that they need to live a long and healthy life?
These are no longer rhetorical questions for you. As medical school graduates and as physicians, these are now your challenges too. Now whether you go on to offer clinical medical services directly to those in need or work in public policy or public health or conduct medical research, you will carry what you've learned with you for the rest of brought to life.
Once again, congratulations. I welcome you to the community of physicians who work every day to support healthy people, healthy communities and a healthy nation for all.
Speaker: Match Day. It's one of the most important moments in the medical school journey. And thanks to the faculty and students at the University of Illinois Chicago School of Medicine, we’re able to share that celebration with you. Hope you enjoy.
Todd Unger: How are you feeling today?
Gabrielle Perez: It hasn't fully hit me, but now the nerves are starting to set in. And so, reflecting back on the past four years and everything, it's just like a whirlwind of emotions starting to kind of come hit me all at once.
Max Ellithorpe: I'm just excited and kind of in disbelief that it's finally here.
Robert Barish, MD, MBA: This group has been through COVID more so than any other group. And look at them now smiling and just joyful. I'm so proud of them.
Kyleen Jan: Yeah. I'm the first one in my family to go to medical school and become a doctor, so it's really exciting for everybody—just very excited to see where I'm going to be for the next five years, excited to start taking responsibility for my patients, become an orthopedic surgeon, and do good things for my patients.
Sri Raghurama Somala: So, I was born in India kind of to a family of farmers, came here in third grade.
Unger: So, is this kind of a dream for you today?
Somala: A little bit but becoming more of a reality. So, I've got to keep pinching myself to make sure I'm awake. I just hope I don't wake up in my bed in like an hour or so knowing this is all a dream.
Gaia Santiago: We're hoping to match together in plastic surgery today, so we'll see.
Chiara Santiago: We have gone through every school together—middle school, elementary school, high school, college, medical school, if I did not say that already. So, we'll see. We'll see if residency is the first school to tear us apart.
Unger: How are you feeling today?
Gaia Santiago: I'm nervous. I'm more nervous than she is. But she's calm, and I'm just excited to find out, but definitely a little nervous.
Ana Gonzalez: So nervous. We find out at 11:00. We're couples matching so we're trying to stay together. We're really excited. Honestly, we are going to be happy as long as we're together, so I just hope that we are together and that we build a life and settle down and make the most of it.
Unger: I wish you both the best, and we'll see you after this.
Ben Aronson: Thank you so much.
Gonzalez: Thank you so much. Thank you.
Mark Rosenblatt, MD: To this Class of 2023, I wish you success in your practice of medicine and all of your future endeavors. With you at the helm, we know that the future of medicine is bright. We are so very, very proud of you. And so, please, let's give a round of applause to this wonderful group.
Unger: All right. This is an exciting moment. All of the medical school students are up here collecting their envelopes with the match that will tell them what the future holds for each of them. And at precisely 11:00, they're going to all open them up together and see just what the future has in store.
Speaker: The moment is here. 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Congratulations.
Unger: All right. How did it turn out?
Gonzalez: We got our number one choice, Northwestern and UChicago.
Aronson: I'm like at a loss for words. It's so much work and thought goes into this process and, ultimately—
Gonzalez: Oh, my gosh.
Aronson: We got our number one so—
Gonzalez: We get to stay in Chicago. We don't have to move. We're going to be here.
Aronson: And a privilege is to continue to serve these patients. It's just something about it, it's just special. I love this city, and it's like I'm at a loss for words right now. But it's—
Gonzalez: I'm so grateful for everything my family has done to help me get to this point. My grandfather and my grandma, and I'm thinking of you guys, yaya and abuelo.
Unger: I got to know, did the universe tear you apart, or did the universe come through?
Chiara Santiago: We're not in the same school, but the same city, thank God.
Gaia Santiago: We're both in Chicago.
Chiara Santiago: Yeah.
Unger: How are you feeling about that?
Gaia Santiago: So happy.
Jacob Bruinius: I matched at the University of Michigan for anesthesiology.
Unger: Congratulations. How are you feeling about this?
Bruinius: I'm feeling really excited. This is awesome.
Unger: How are you feeling right now?
Chiaka Anyaso: Man, over the moon, just overwhelmed with emotions, very grateful. I feel blessed, and I'm very proud of myself.
Unger: You got to be pretty proud of this graduate.
Chiaka Anyaso mother: Very, very proud. I'm so proud of her. She worked hard and it paid off. So, I'm so proud of her. And I thank God, too, that made it possible.
Unger: Congratulations. All right. I got to know, how'd it turn out?
Joseph Geraghty: Amazing, going to University of Pennsylvania in Philly. It's my number one choice. I'm super excited.
Unger: Excellent, congratulations.
Amy De La Torre: I'm ecstatic. I honestly have no words. I'm still shaking. Look at my hands. My family, all my loved ones are here so it was an incredible moment. Definitely one of the most memorable times of my life. So—
Unger: We got to find out, was it a dream or not?
Somala: I'm still awake, so it doesn't seem like it's a dream. I'm doing internal medicine in Nashville, so let's go.
Unger: And tell us the big news. Where'd you match?
Regina Koch: I matched at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Woo!
Unger: I guess I can tell, but how are you feeling?
Koch: I'm excited. I'm really happy. I'm excited, hoping to go into hematology oncology. So, we are thankful and grateful today.
Dr. Varshavski: Dr. Aletha Maybank is the AMA's chief health equity officer responsible for leading the Center for Health Equity. Let's hear what advice she has for our graduates.
Dr. Maybank: Congratulations class of 2023. You are all so awesome. You know you're entering into an unprecedented and hopeful time in the field of medicine, an era in medicine that will definitely be shaped by the strength of your collective and political activism, your collaboration and the solidarity that you all harbor as young physicians with each other but also with many other people across this country and this globe. Activism that needs to happen in and out of the doctor's office, in the hospital walls, and activism that will require exposing and calling out oppressive ideologies and actions that look to things like defunding our education and tools on history and advancing equity, that dismantle affirmative action and that are stopping medical practices that allow for bodily autonomy are just a few examples of the things that you are going to have to fight against.
You may be met with resistance inside and outside of the institutions that you work for, but I encourage you to keep pushing forward in what you know to be right and just. This is a moment of celebration, and also cause for rest to soldier on to the journey ahead. Rest should be seen as a part of the motions of success, clearly as individuals how we can collectively do it with each other, but also for the structures that exist that allow us to rest.
So find the rhythms of rest that will sustain and motivate you to continue to work for justice tomorrow. You deserve this moment. Have a beautiful celebration, and I wish you all well for the future and all of your endeavors. Thank you.
Alade: My name is Tami Alade. I'm a third-year medical student at Georgetown University School of Medicine. I was actually born in Nigeria, at the age of two, my whole family immigrated to Canada. My parents were often working multiple jobs just trying to provide. I was lucky enough to be awarded a sports scholarship for my undergrad career and so I got to play volleyball while also studying.
Coming from Canada and then California, I wasn't always in environments where there were a lot of people that looked like me. So medical school can be incredibly isolating. You often feel like you're the only one going through these issues. I know I really relied on some of the older students. And they were so open and in making sure I felt like I had people who would support me in this process but also validating that my feelings were real, the struggle was real, and that ultimately, it does work out in the end.
I'd like to give a shout out to two of the most incredible mentors, Malcolm Meredith and Mia Jenkins. They are two people who are authentic to who they are, have been there since I think my first month at Georgetown and have been amazing mentors in both connecting me to other people in the community but also reminding me that I'm not alone in this process.
Malcolm and Mia, I just wanted to say thank you so much from the bottom of my heart. You can't be what you can't see. And I've seen you both incredible role models, incredible advocates and incredible future doctors who are going to change the world. So, I'm just truly thankful for everything that you both have done, and I wish you the best of luck.
Dr. Varshavski: Medical school graduations are rich with traditions, perhaps none so symbolic as the reciting of the Declaration of Geneva, a modern-day Hippocratic Oath. Often updated and rewritten to meet the changing times, this oath is a promise to patients, a promise these students make to the profession. And it's a promise they keep throughout their career. Let's hear from the members of the AMA's Board of Trustees as they recite the Declaration of Geneva.
Dr. Fryhofer: This oath reminds us of our solemn duty to our patients and to the profession.
Dr. Ajayi: It makes me remember why I came to medicine, why I dedicated the years of education to this practice.
Dr. Resneck: The reasons that drew me to medicine in the first place, the sacred duties that we take on as we join this profession.
Dr. Levin: It makes me think about the physician that I want to be and continue to be throughout my career.
Dr. Ehrenfeld: It connects me to the community of healers around the globe.
Dr. Butler: It makes me value what I do each and every day in the service of my patient.
Dr. Harmon: Reciting this pledge makes me internally respect the honor, the dignity and the great gift that I've been given as a member of the healing profession.
Dr. Resneck: As a member of the medical profession: I solemnly pledge—
Dr. Harmon: I solemnly pledge—
Dr. Butler: I solemnly pledge to dedicate my life—
Dr. Mukkamala: My life—
Dr. Ajayi: My life—
Dr. Harmon: My life to the service of humanity.
Dr. Mukkamala: The health and well-being of my patient will be my first consideration.
Dr. Ajayi: I will respect the autonomy and dignity of my patient.
Dr. Madejski: I will maintain the utmost respect for human life.
Dr. Heine: I will not permit considerations of age, disease, or disability—
Dr. Harvey: Creed, ethnic origin—
Dr. Fryhofer: Gender, nationality—
Dr. Ferguson: Political affiliation, race—
Dr. Levin: Sexual orientation, social standing—
Dr. Ehrenfeld: Or any other factor to intervene between my duty and my patient.
Dr. Aizuss: I will respect the secrets that are confided in me, even after the patient has died.
Dr. Edwards: I will practice my profession with conscience and dignity and in accordance with good medical practice.
Dr. Ding: I will foster the honor and noble traditions of the medical profession.
Dr. Mukkamala: I will give to my teachers, colleagues, and students the respect and gratitude that is their due.
Dr. Ajayi: I will share my medical knowledge for the benefit of the patient and the advancement of health care.
Dr. Madejski: I will attend to my own health, well-being, and abilities in order to provide care of the highest standard.
Dr. Ferguson: I will not use my medical knowledge to violate human rights and civil liberties even under threat.
Dr. Ehrenfeld: I make these promises solemnly—
Dr. Butler: Solemnly—
Dr. Heine: Freely—
Dr. Edwards: Freely—
Dr. Harvey: Freely—
Dr. Ehrenfeld: And upon my honor.
Dr. Varshavski: If there's one thing physicians love to do, it's give advice. You're going to hear a lot of advice throughout your residency, so it's only natural we'd want to impart some tonight. My advice is don't pretend to know it all. That comes later, after residency. Kidding aside, even the most seasoned physicians don't have all the answers. Don't be afraid to say, I don't know, or that's based on what we know right now, but it could change. And never stop asking questions.
Now let's see what advice physicians and other health care leaders who really do know a lot have for you.
Dr. Whyte: Congratulations. What a momentous occasion.
Dr. Bibbins-Domingo: Congratulations.
Dr. Plenty: Congratulations.
Dr. Whyte: My advice to graduating students are keep an open mind.
Dr. Bibbins-Domingo: This is a wonderful profession, and the things you can do as a physician are really broad. There are so many ways to have an impact.
Dr. Lamb: Regardless of your specialty, look for the program and the people and the culture that speak to you because you're going to spend a lot of time and energy there.
Dr. Ibrahim: A piece of advice I'd like to give you is to always be curious, always be skeptical, and remember a little bit of extra effort goes very far away.
Dr. Caretta-Weyer: Make sure you are taking care of yourself as you prepare to take care of all of your future patients.
Dr. Maclean: And that means intentional self care, that means making sure that you treat yourself with compassion every day.
Dr. Lesko: Find something in residency that you do just for you.
Dr. Jones: My advice to you as you set off in your careers is to treat each patient that you encounter as if they were a beloved member of your own family.
Dr. Peccoralo: You are all honored to be physicians, and that is now part of who you are, but remember you have many other elements of your identity and to integrate all of them as you move on through the career that you will all have in medicine.
Dr. Stanford: Each person has their distinct path in medicine, and you can follow that path. Follow it. Follow with vigor and passion.
Dr. Girgrah: I can say this personally, there are going to be hard times. There will be many. I've been through those, but it always gets better.
Dr. Plenty: You will get through this, and you will see the light at the end of the tunnel. And you will be joining us to take care of the patients of this nation.
Dr. Patel: My best piece of advice is to be yourself and have fun. You've worked so hard to get to this point, and now you get a chance to live your dream and be the best physician you can be.
Dr. Whyte: It is real advice. Maybe someone will take it.
Dr. Varshavski: Please welcome Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dr. Walensky: What a privilege to address the medical student class of 2023, a class that completed its education while the world was changing in ways we never could have imagined. Twenty-eight years ago, I sat at my medical school graduation, aspiring to help one patient at a time. I never expected my path would lead me to serve as the 19th director of CDC. Who knows where your path will lead?
What I do know is that your education has prepared you to lead and to model the values of our profession of health equity, social justice, trustworthiness, moral integrity and empathy. Already you have shown how you live our profession's values every single day. I've seen how you are quick to lean in to preventing the spread of COVID-19.
You staffed testing and vaccination clinics, made home visits, built and managed quarantine centers and served as community support in so many ways for so many people in need, especially people in communities that were under resourced and people who could not advocate for themselves. Thank you.
Your touch at the bedside and your creative magic in science and in health are critical to the well-being of this nation and the world. So is the strength, clarity, courage and consistency of your voice. I would argue that our voices are among the most precious things we have, and that we must use our voices for those whose voices are not heard, whose voices are overlooked.
I ask you to use your voice and service to your patients and your community. I ask you to use your voice to end the practice of marginalizing people based on their identity. I ask you to use your voice against racism. And I ask you to use your voice to eliminate the structural barriers to opportunity for everyone in this country.
I recognize this will not be easy. Using your voice for others requires one of your most precious commodities, your time. And yet I am asking you to take the time and to be intentional about how you use your time and your voice, to use them for a purpose and for good.
You are entering the profession at a very exciting time. As you move on to whatever is next for you, I hope you choose projects and roles that inspire and motivate you, that better humanity and that expand the very notion of what science and health care can do. And I look forward to watching all that you will do. As you step toward the enormous opportunities ahead of you and how the health of this nation and the world will be better because of you.
Dr. Varshavski: And now a few words from Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, editor in chief of JAMA and the JAMA Network, who is also a physician, scientist and professor.
Dr. Bibbins-Domingo: Congratulations to the class of 2023. I want to welcome you to this wonderful profession of medicine, to congratulate you and to leave you with just a few ideas of what I think about during this special time.
The first is, what a wonderful profession medicine is. It truly is very special to be a doctor. And what is even more special is just the many ways in which physicians practice these days, taking care of individual patients, doing research, working in publishing, like we do, and communicating about science and medicine.
So, you've entered a wonderful profession and the possibilities for you in the future are really limitless. The second thing I would say is you're embarking upon a busy time if you're going into residency. Use that time to ask some questions about the things around you, about how we practice medicine, about why we do things for patients. Hopefully, some of you will translate that curiosity into thinking about doing some research and combining that with your practice of medicine.
And the last thing that I would say is be clear, ensure sure that you take care of yourself as well. We work long and hard in medicine, and the careers are long. So take time, take care of yourself. We need all of you in medicine.
Houston: I'm Bryson Houston. I go to University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine. I'm a second-year medical student now. I started at Morehouse in 2017, came in as a biology pre-med major. A lot of my reasons for doing it is because of other men that were doing it before me. I met Matthew here at Perelman. We both joined a mentorship program. And when he was talking, you can really see the passion come out of somebody. I instantly gravitated towards him to see him doing that and see like, OK, he's doing it. I can do it too. Those people don't come around a lot.
Matthew is somebody that is very special. And to know him is to really a good-hearted, kind soul. He became somebody that I could easily talk to. He's really big, I can tell, on mentorship. He's been a really comfortable presence around me, and he would remind me it's going to be OK. Medical school can feel very lonely, and Matthew really made me feel like I had somebody that I can just pick up the phone and call.
So Matthew, I want to say thank you so much for pouring into me and giving me all the motivation that I need to succeed. And I really don't know where I would be. You actually helped me a lot to overcome a lot of these obstacles and all the successes to you. And I just want you to know that you will be a huge part of my success as well.
Dr. Varshavski: Medical education is the cornerstone of our profession. And the AMA's medical education team is working to make sure it continues to innovate and evolve to prepare our future physicians. Here's a few words from the AMA's medical education leaders.
Dr. Desai: From the medical education team at the American Medical Association, congratulations to you.
Dr. Lomis: The graduating class of 2023.
Dr. Andrews: We are so proud of all you've accomplished.
Dr. Desai: With the AMA ChangeMedEd initiative, we spent the last 10 years partnering with medical schools and residency programs all across the country to improve and transform medical education. And our commitment continues to pay off in graduates and physicians who are capable and ready to meet the needs of their patients and their communities.
Dr. Lomis: You truly are ready. You went through medical school during one of the most challenging times in recent history. You were resilient, you were determined and you persevered. These same traits will serve you well throughout your career in medicine. If you got through these last few years of medical school and graduated, you have what it takes for residency. Continue to be flexible and open to change as you transition into residency and beyond.
Dr. Andrews: As you begin your residency, you'll carry on our profession's proud tradition of teaching one another. You'll find support through your fellow residents, attending physicians and colleagues in other disciplines who are members of your interprofessional team.
During this exciting phase of your professional development, be an adaptive learner, embodying a spirit of creativity and innovation. The AMA will continue to promote systemic change to enhance your well-being and readiness for practice, helping you make the most of your residency experience.
Dr. Desai: And know that we at the AMA will support you today and protect your future as we continue to innovate and lead the development of the most caring and capable physicians in the world. Remember, the excellence that you've demonstrated to get to today, graduation day, is just the beginning. For your career in medicine, you are also making a commitment to lifelong learning.
Dr. Lomis: We hope you have a little time off to enjoy and celebrate.
Dr. Andrews: You deserve it.
Dr. Desai: Again, congratulations.
Dr. Varshavski: Please welcome Dr. Ashish K. Jha, White House COVID-19 response coordinator.
Dr. Jha: Medical school class of 2023, congratulations and welcome to the profession. Being a physician is an incredible honor, it's an incredible privilege. Every day, people will turn to you for advice and guidance at their most vulnerable moments, when they are sick, when they're confused, when they don't know what the future brings. And you will bring your knowledge, you will bring your wisdom, you will bring your expertise and experience to that moment. And you will do it with kindness, and you will do it with integrity, remembering the moral compass that all of you have developed over the last four years.
Physicians hold a very special role in American society and rightly so, not just for the individual care that they provide but at moments when our country and our society is at risk, as we saw with the COVID pandemic. Again, our nation turned to physicians for scientific leadership, for clinical leadership, for moral leadership. Never forget what an honor and privilege that is. And it is up to us to rise to that moment, to spread good information, to help people understand and navigate their way through crises, whether they are individual ones or they're societal ones.
And that obligation is extraordinary, it comes with a lot of privileges, but there's no question that I am confident you will all rise to that challenge. So congratulations, again. Huge honor, huge day to be able to put that MD after your name and know that you are a full fledged physician. America, people, individuals, your family, your friends will look at you differently. And you have earned it. It is your opportunity at this moment to use that training, to use that degree to do good for the world. So thank you again for joining this profession and congratulations.
Dr. Varshavski: Now we'll hear from Dr. Robert M. Califf, Food and Drug Administration commissioner.
Dr. Califf: It's my great pleasure to join today's tribute to the medical school class of 2023 in celebration of your achievement. I want to offer my congratulations to the graduates as well as a special thank you to all of the parents and family members, friends, spouses and others who supported the graduates in getting to this day and in helping you become a part of the next generation of physicians.
"The next generation of physicians," that phrase carries a lot of weight. On the one hand, it means that we're counting on you to take care of us as we get older and to repair the systemic problems in our health care system that my generation has not solved. It also means that you're the pathfinders and groundbreakers for the next generation of medical and scientific discovery. It's one of the most deeply honored traditions of medicine and biomedical science to nurture our scientific progeny, who then go on to accomplish much more than the current generation.
You're at the starting point of that process, and I'm happy to tell you that it's a profession that can offer you a lifetime of opportunity and satisfaction. You'll work hard and no doubt you'll face occasional setbacks and disappointment, but there's enormous potential for achievement and gratification. I'll tell you there's nothing that can match the reward that comes from embracing the challenge of discovery or learning the answer to a medical mystery or helping a patient.
Let me take a moment to focus on that last quality, helping your patients, which is far and away the most critical aspect of being a doctor. I hope that each of you bring passion, caring and character to your work and your patients. And most importantly, that you listen to them. It's one of the most important parts of medicine, and certainly of our work at the FDA, to incorporate the perspectives and experiences of patients, to make sure the evidence reflects what matters most to patients and their caregivers.
As has often been said, you should treat the person and not just the disease. Or as Benjamin Franklin put it, "the best doctors gave me the least medicines." As doctors, I hope you'll not only stand strong in the battle for truth and facts and the needs of patients but that you will also help break through the echo chamber of misinformation and use your knowledge and expertise to strengthen medicine, science and public health.
You're entering an important and majestic profession. I hope you embrace it and enjoy it as much as I have. Thank you, congratulations and good luck.
Mukherjee: My family and I emigrated from Calcutta, India, in February 1999 in the city of Atlantic City, New Jersey. And while I had been in Atlantic City, my mother had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and I had been caring for her throughout my life. And based on some of the challenges that we've had with finding employment, finding the right access to resources, those social determinants of health really motivated my journey to pursue medicine to address these pillars that continue to really affect immigrant communities like my own.
Samir, he saw these issues, and he reached out to me after we had done a medical brigade in Panama, where we had became acquainted, motivating me to get into health policy as well as working with the AMA and working with my local politicians, local policymakers to address the diabetes epidemic as well as mental health parity laws in New Jersey.
Samir and I worked on a lot of different projects together. He provided me a foundation for considering an interdisciplinary career in medicine. Once you're in medical school, you have so much opportunity. And so it's very hard to dilute what you're doing until you have someone who can serve as a mentor. Samir really gave me that insight that I didn't have previously.
Samir, three years ago, you changed my life, really being the guiding force for my pursuit in health equity, health policy, as well as clinical medicine. I look at you as someone who I feel is a vanguard in our community. As you go into military, I know that you're going to be an advocate for your patients, for your community, and being able to really shift the narrative of disadvantage that we've lived through to one of hope.
Dr. Varshavski: As we come to the end of our AMA Tribute to the Medical School Class of 2023, I'd like to thank you for sharing this important time in your lives with us and with each other. As you'll likely know by now, medicine is not a straightforward nor an easy path, but it is a rewarding one. It's no secret that our health care system is struggling. I say this not to discourage you, but to inspire you to take advantage of this opportunity to fix it. We need you, your enthusiasm, your fresh ideas and new perspectives. You are the future of medicine.
Finally, we have one more treat for you, a performance from rising star Lindsey Lomas, a 20-year-old singer, songwriter and artist who documents coming of age in real time. She's accumulated millions of streams and earned the claim from Once to Watch, American songwriter and more. She initially discovered music at the age of 9 and dedicated herself wholeheartedly to it. Tonight, she will share a previously unreleased song called “Handle With Care.” And fun fact, she's the daughter of a physician.
On behalf of the American Medical Association, congratulations class of 2023. And as always, stay happy and healthy.
Lomis: Congratulations to the med school class of 2023. It's an honor to play for the newest class of physicians. My mom is actually a physician, so I know firsthand the commitment and compassion it takes to be in the medical field. Thank you for your hard work and dedication. This is an original song of mine called "Handle With Care."
Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed in this video are those of the participants and/or do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the AMA.