WILKES-BARRE — Once again, the sounds of “Pomp and Circumstance” filled the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts, which could only mean one thing: it was time for another class of doctors to be sent out into the world.
Family, friends and every other kind of supporter and well-wisher one can imagine packed into the auditorium to watch the class of 2018 from the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine graduate.
Founded in 2008, the medical school conferred degrees unto its ninth master of biomedical class and its sixth class of doctor of medicine students.
Dr. Steven J. Scheinman, president and dean of the school, was quick to point out that both classes were the largest in the school’s decade-long history, with 93 masters students and 99 doctoral students.
With an opening invocation by the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, bishop of the Diocese of Scranton, and a closing benediction by Rabbi Larry Kaplan, of Temple Israel in Wilkes-Barre, the ceremony did much to remind the soon-to-be physicians that, in their patients’ eyes, they’re nearly miracle-workers.
The commencement’s keynote speaker, Dr. David B. Nash, is the founding dean of the Jefferson College of Population Health of Thomas Jefferson University. After receiving an honorary degree from the medical school, he opened with a quick joke about the notorious length of commencements.
“I made a solemn oath 37 years ago that if I had the opportunity to speak at a commencement, I would keep it short and sweet, and it would have a happy ending,” Nash said to laughter. “I plan to keep that oath.”
Nash’s speech centered around what he called the “Triple Aim,” referring to modern healthcare workers’ goals to increase population health, reduce per capita cost and waste, and improve individual experience and care. Nash spoke about the issues facing physicians in these regards, including America’s status as the fattest country in the world and what he called “institutional racism” — the disproportionately worse healthcare provided to minority groups.
“In Philadelphia, there’s a 20-year disparity of lifespan depending on what zip code you live in,” he said.
Closing out the two-hour ceremony, Scheinman had two final pieces of advice for his students before sending them out.
“Never think of the patient as a routine case,” he said first. “Every patient has something to teach you; if you don’t see it, that’s your failure.”
Second, Scheinman encouraged the graduates to become truly involved in their patients’ wellness.
“Care for your patients,” he said. “Not just take care of them, but care about them.”
Reach Patrick Kernan at 570-991-6386 or on Twitter @PatKernan