Collectively, the 100 members of the Class of 2005 have interned in the White House, built an orphanage in the Dominican Republic, taught math to ex-convicts, worked in emergency rooms, helped run a women’s health clinic in Armenia, conducted research on diabetes, studied insects in the marshes of Costa Rica and narrowly escaped the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Their numbers include a VISTA volunteer, a biologist, a lifeguard, an emergency medical technician and a student who speaks Mandarin, Cantonese and Spanish.
This diverse and eclectic group of 46 men and 54 women came together on August 28 for their induction into the world of medicine—the donning of the white jacket that identifies them as healers. With that act came words of caution from the new chair of surgery.
“Medicine without magic, without empathy, without insight into the desires and aspirations of the individual patient,” said Robert Udelsman, M.D., M.S.B., M.B.A., “can miss the mark.”
In a talk at the White Jacket Ceremony titled “Medical Mysticism,” Udelsman invoked the symbolism of the occasion. “The white coat is but one of many tools, like the stethoscope,” he said. “It is in part a prop that has become associated with trust, faith and magic. We empower you to use these tools, to use them wisely, to use them selflessly.” Udelsman’s call for a mix of skills, knowledge and compassion echoed long-standing traditions of medical education at Yale.
And, indeed, the Yale System of Medical Education was the main appeal of the medical school for the overwhelming majority of incoming students. A report from the admissions office revealed other facts about the new class. The students’ mean age is 23.5, and their cumulative GPA is 3.74. Nearly all in the group, 96, have engaged in research or independent study in science. In the group are five students with master’s degrees, one holder of a Ph.D. degree, 49 members of minority groups, 89 science majors, and graduates of 50 colleges, with Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Dartmouth and Brown leading the list.
On September 20, at a meeting of the Medical School Council, Richard A. Silverman, director of admissions, used the group’s own words from their application essays to paint a picture of the class. One student mentored learning-disabled children. Another was born in Sudan and lived in Syria, Oman and Thailand. Yet another grew up speaking English, French and an African dialect called Dida.
“Statistics,” said Thomas L. Lentz, M.D. ’64, associate dean for admissions and professor and vice chair of cell biology, “don’t reveal the remarkable accomplishments that you have made outside the classroom. These are in many different areas such as health care, research, campus government, athletics, letters, music and journalism. It is through these achievements that you demonstrate the qualities, such as leadership, creativity, motivation, independence and organization, that we are looking for in our students.”