Welcoming Address Class of 2013
Remarks by Robert I. Grossman, MD
Dean & CEO
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Good morning everyone, and congratulations on being here! I’m delighted to welcome you to medical school!!
What I’d like to do in the next few minutes is to give you my personal perspective on this grand adventure you’ve embarked upon.
Things have changed so much in medical education since I was in your shoes, that it’s hard to believe only a few short decades have gone by.
One thing that has changed markedly is how students learn. When I was in medical school, it was a matter of memorizing dense—and sometimes dusty—tomes. You won’t have to rely on your memory in quite the same way. You’ll be navigating databases and monitoring updates. You probably can’t even imagine a world without the Internet—and frankly, at this point, neither can I!
On the other hand, in a textbook world, “facts” remain facts for a number of years, while what you will be learning will probably evolve… even while you’re still in school!
A set of very different challenges!
The second big change in the past few decades is in the practice of medicine itself. When I started out, we had no CT. No MRI. No mammogram or ultrasound. It was still a time of widespread exploratory surgery—a costly, painful, often unsuccessful way of trying to pinpoint the source of a problem. Today, we can see inside the body with astonishing precision—without ever going near a scalpel!
Advances in surgery have been equally dramatic, thanks to the proliferation of minimally invasive techniques. Most incisions today are a fraction of the size they used to be, with all that implies for healing and recovery times. And therapeutics has followed a similar trajectory.
All of this will equip you with an array of diagnostic and treatment options we barely dreamed of when I was sitting where you are today. The profession you will be entering is far more empowered to help patients stay well and get better.
Medically speaking, at least.
But you will also have to contend with complexities that simply weren’t there before. Outside forces—from regulatory agencies to insurance companies—play a much larger role today. The notion of a single practitioner “hanging out a shingle” seems part of a bygone era. There will be times when your political and navigational skills will prove as decisive to success as your professional judgment.
I often think how remarkable it is that— despite the vastness of all these changes—the essence of being a physician hasn’t moved an inch. Ours is a very old profession that at its core remains what it has aspired to be since ancient times: a commitment to helping other people.
And I don’t think there is a medical school anywhere that is better equipped than this one to instill that central truth.
This is a very special place—a place that will help you hold fast to the ideals that inspired you to go into medicine.
I think you’ll find that there is a particular form of excitement here. Tremendous vital