MSPress Announcements

“Declaring an Affirmation of Commitment” Dr. Robert Folberg, 2015 Commencement Address of the Oakland University Beaumont School of Medicine

Screen Shot 2015-08-01 at 11.01.57 AMVolume 2 of the Medical Commencement Archive comes from Dr. Robert Folberg at Oakland University Beaumont School of Medicine’s charter class’ commencement. Dr. Folberg’s address, Declaring an Affirmation of Commitment, reflects not on the definition of being a good physician, but on being a good human being. Dr. Folberg is the Founding Dean of OUWB, as well as the Chief Academic Officer at William Beaumont Hospital. As a proud student of OUWB myself, I couldn’t help but debut this year’s Archive with my university’s Dean – a man who has never failed to give mini-motivational speeches in the hallway before exams and is always happy to attend and support student organization events.

Dr. Folberg revolves his speech around two questions: what do I want to do, and who do I want to be? Although to some, those two questions may inspire the same answer, Dr. Folberg stresses that the second question embodies a commitment beyond profession.

To answer the second question – who do I want to be – requires training, practice, and commitment. You were invited to come to OUWB because you excelled academically and because you provided evidence to us of experiences and attributes that predicted you would become physicians who are empathetic, compassionate, and engaged.

He continues by emphasizing the Declaration of Geneva, an oath that each study took upon receiving their first white coat. Each class at OUWB has the opportunity to make unique additions to the Declaraton of Geneva, reflecting upon the promises they hope to fulfill throughout their careers.

You recognize that we all have conscious and even unconscious biases that, if unchecked, could compromise our ability to practice medicine. How could we allow our biases to interfere with the practice of medicine if everyone has infinite value?

At the end of his speech, Dr. Folberg quotes an original line from the Declaration of Geneva: “I will give to my teachers the respect and gratitude that is their due,” and humbly titled each student as his new teachers in the profession of medicine.

Frequently, stymied by a case that challenges my abilities, I turn to my younger colleagues for help, and often, these are the very individuals who were my students. In a very real sense, I owe to them, my students, the respect and gratitude that is their due.

Volume 2 of the Medical Commencement Archive has a fantastic line-up this year! A new speech will be published each Friday.

Visit the Medical Commencement Archive

Clinical General Lifestyle MSPress Announcements Narrative Opinion Reflection

“Preserving the Nobility of Medicine” Dr. Robert Alpern, 2014 Commencement Address of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Page 1 copyIn continuation of the Medical Commencement Archive, this Friday we are releasing a new commencement speech. Today’s commencement speech is titled Preserving the Nobility of Medicine. This commencement speech was given by Dr. Robert J. Alpern, a Northwestern University alumnus, to the students of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The esteemed Dr. Alpern is Ensign Professor of Medicine and Dean at Yale University School of Medicine. He also is President of the American Society of Nephrology, as well as a sitting Advisory Council Member of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Dr. Alpern took a moment for students to take a closer look at the value and weight of the two-lettered title: MD. He reflected upon the unique status given to physicians, and the reverence given to doctors from the community and from patients. Yet, at the same time the medical paradigm continues to evolve. Dr. Alpern astutely foresees a future where physicians must adapt to the growing roles in the medical team, changes in bureaucracy, and the changing expectations of patient’s for their treatment. Dr. Alpern also notes that these changes will influence the training and education of physicians. On top of our own desire to stifle the monsoon current of medical information during our education, there are legitimate concerns that the future medical student will receive but an abbreviated biochemistry course, or won’t need to take an MCAT, maybe even spend less time in medical school. Yet, Dr. Alpern urges one thing: to value the pursuit of scholarship. He reminds us that only with a strong foundation may a strong physician be built.

“We observe the patient and draw on our scientific understanding of how the body works and sometimes does not work, to develop a truth that we can implement as an action plan. We must know clinical guidelines and the most up-to-date treatment algorithms, but we must also be ready to identify clinical circumstances in which they do not apply.”

Dr. Alpern eloquently explains that, above all else, the pursuit of knowledge and scholarship is indeed the nobility of medicine. He reminds us to respect this pursuit in lieu of the changes we will see in our futures as physicians, such that “we do not return to the era of trade schools of medicine”. Dr. Alpern further mentions that, in addition to being a scholar, the physician must be compassionate, and that neither trait is mutually exclusive:

“I also want to make the point that an emphasis on science is not the antithesis of compassion, but it is rather the complement of compassion”.

At the end of his speech, Dr. Alpern concludes with this piece of wisdom:

“Do not be intimidated by the evolving healthcare system. Rather, as the next generation of physicians, you will define healthcare, and you must define it well.”