At their Commencement in September the 29 members of the Physician Associate Program’s Class of 2005 heard words of encouragement from Joxel Garcia, M.D., M.B.A., former commissioner of public health for the state of Connecticut and current deputy director of the Pan American Health Organization.

“These are exciting times to be in the health care field,” Garcia said, citing new technology and new medical discoveries. But this day, he continued, would be a benchmark in the new graduates’ careers. “Anything you do from today on is going to have an impact five, 10, 20 years from now. Today is all about you and how you are going to fulfill yourself as a person. Just make sure you do what you love to do. Never compromise yourself for things that are going to be short-lived or are not going to make you happy.”

His closing admonition to the graduates was to “keep learning. … If you are not learning you won’t be able to adapt yourself … to the new realities of life.”

In keeping with Garcia’s advice, Robert J. Alpern, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine and Ensign Professor of Medicine, said, “Medicine is changing so fast that what you’ve learned will probably be completely out of date five years from now.” Noting the unequalled academic achievements of the Class of 2005, he said, “People will look to you for leadership—not just to practice health care, but to lead it.”

This year’s Didactic Instructor Award for dedication and excellence in the classroom went to J.G. Collins, Ph.D., professor of anesthesiology and lecturer in pharmacology. David Spiro, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of pediatrics (emergency medicine), and John Roney, PA-C, lecturer in pediatrics, shared the Clinical Instructor’s Award, given to recognize exemplary teaching at a clinical rotation site. John P. Hayslett, M.D., HS ’65, professor of medicine (nephrology) and of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences, received the Jack Cole Society Award for contributions in support of the physician associate profession.