Sheltered under a tent to ward off a driving rain, 97 students received their medical degrees on Memorial Day and heard admonitions to retain their humanity, to find meaning in their lives and careers and to take comfort from lives of service.
Making their way through a sheltering gantlet of umbrellas, the Class of 2003 processed to the tent on Harkness Lawn where their families and friends waited. In his opening remarks, then-Dean David A. Kessler, M.D., told students to take pride in their accomplishment. “As you go beyond these walls,” he said, “you will increasingly recognize the degree to which you have been shaped by this place. Today you go forward to shape the future of American medicine. You are proof that this great experiment called the Yale System works and that you have been shaped by an incredible faculty.”
Joahd Toure, one of the graduates, offered an invocation of thanks and a call for humility. “Let us pray that success follows us from this place,” Toure said. “Let us pray for continued support from mentors, family and friends. Let us pray our education serves us well. Let us pray for knowledge to understand illness. And let us pray we remember that knowledge is not all that is needed to address the concerns of our future patients. Let us also pray for compassion, wisdom, patience, humility and grace.”
In her Commencement address, Rachel N. Remen, M.D., clinical professor of family and community medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine, continued with a similar theme. Medicine’s emphasis on intellect and science often disregards the instincts of the heart, she said. “It may cause us to believe that the perception of the heart is soft, unprofessional, even dangerous, that the heart will somehow mar our judgment and make us incompetent as medical people,” said Remen, author of Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal and My Grandfather’s Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging. “It has taken me years to realize that being a human being is not unprofessional. … The heart is the strongest place from which to live a life, especially a physician’s life.”
This year’s Bohmfalk Prizes went to Sheldon M. Campbell, M.D., Ph.D., FW ’92, assistant professor of laboratory medicine, and Cyrus R. Kapadia, M.D., professor of medicine. Auguste H. Fortin VI, M.D., assistant clinical professor of medicine, received the Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine Award. The Leah M. Lowenstein Award went to Susan M. Richman, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology. John S. Hughes, M.D., HS ’76, associate professor of medicine, received the Francis Gilman Blake Award, and the Betsy Winters House Staff Award went to Stephen M. Kavic, M.D.