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Alumni Pearls of Wisdom for first-year medical students

Ryan Bowman • 8/3/17

Alumni Pearls of Wisdom for first-year medical students

The IU School of Medicine Alumni Association asked its alumni to share a piece of advice, words of encouragement or a few words to live by for incoming IU medical students.  These students received a Pearl of Wisdom printed on a note card at the annual White Coat Ceremony on August 4, 2017.

If you’d like to submit a note for next year’s ceremony or for a member of the Class of 2018 to receive at Commencement, please fill out the online form.

Thank you to the hundreds of alumni who have shared a Pearl of Wisdom.  Below is a selection of pearls submitted for the 2017 White Coat Ceremony.

Make sure you have friends and interests outside medicine. As important and critical as your medical studies are, I think it is equally important to have balance and variety in your life. Therefore, take time to have fun and pursue other interests too. Study and have knowledge in other subjects. Read about and have friends not in the medical field. I think this will make you a better, more rounded person and actually a better doctor too.

David Giles, MD
Class of 1971

As you enter the field of medicine, you become part of a sacred trust, but this status is not limited to medicine. Your role to work to minimize the impact of disease on your patients requires great trust of you by your patients, but remember that physicians are not unique in maintaining a sacred trust. The farmer enters a sacred trust to preserve the land for use by future generations. The auto worker enters a sacred trust to produce a safe and effective product. The fast food worker enters a sacred trust to provide meals in a sanitary fashion. The single mother enters a sacred trust to do all she can to raise her children in a safe and loving environment. At the end of the day, therefore, you are not so special, because all honest work, whether or not it is remunerated, is honorable.  Keep this in mind as you work to respect ALL of your patients, whether or not at first glance they seem to be respectable.  We are all united by our humanity.

Gary Gaddis, MD, PhD
Class of 1986

Choose your career path in medicine based on what you love to do and not on the money you will make or the prestige you may garner.

Barry Fisher, MD
Class of 1986

Teachers open the door, but you must enter yourselves.
Chinese Proverb

William James, MD
Class of 1977

Stay focused on the end goal in the tough times before clinical years.

Dan W Hibner , MD
Class of 1961

During your 4-8 years in learning about medicine, you will want to absorb as much information and technical skills as you can. As you know, or will know, your career will be filled with ongoing learning.  It will be a rare professor or preceptor who will not be delighted to teach you as long as you demonstrate an interest and make yourself available to many opportunities. You are being entrusted with much privileged information from your patients. Please honor that trust.  With time you will learn the very important skills of the ART of medicine. Please do not neglect that important part of caring for your patients.

William Hathaway, MD
Class of 1967

Dear Medical Student,

Put on your seat belt and welcome to the adventure of a lifetime!!!  I’m grateful to be a physician every single day.  My work has taken me around the world to learn and serve patients in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America.  Now that you’re in the door, many hard years of study lie ahead.  Hang in there.  Inch by inch, day by day, exam by exam, you can do it!  Wishing you all the best in your career to follow.

Cynthia Haq, MD
Class of 1983

The doctor patient relationship goes back nearly 3,800 years to the time of Hammurabi, refined another 1,000 years later by Hippocrates.  It has survived the rise and fall of empires, the Black Death, The Crusades, The Reformation, World Wars, nuclear holocaust and all ilks of politicians and bureaucrats.  It is now in your hands to cultivate this sacred bond between the doctor and the patient.  It is in your hands to cultivate and use all forms of caregivers as the extension of that doctor-patient relationship.  It is in your hands to integrate ethics, compassion, skill, intelligence and intellectual growth to preserve and grow this great gift that we have been given by our Creator for being “human.” What you do to (for) the least of my brethren, you do unto me.  Hence, follow the golden rule and do unto others selflessly.  Go peaceful into that good night of call and retain the thought that you are there to foster the bond of the doctor patient relationship so that those that follow will foster it too.

Thomas J Fischer, MD
Class of 1979

Welcome to Medicine.  These next few years are a purposeful immersion in a distinct language and culture.  Take heart that is all worthwhile.  Be diligent in your study, as it builds the platform that you will stand upon for your whole career.  It is a privilege to step into the lives of your patients and be given the opportunity in some way to make their lives better.  To hold on to that privilege, you must promote healthcare safety and a caring heart.  Therefore, we have to all commit together to abide by the rules of our profession.  Promise with me to maintain habits in which you self-assess and self-correct your own and our peers’ skills and safety.  Pay attention to the two dimensions of medicine, the scientific and the humanistic, because it is through that blending that you will truly serve others and love medicine for a lifetime.

Mary Ciccarelli, MD
Class of 1982

Never be afraid to ask questions and to seek knowledge.  “Learning” doesn’t occur just when you “study.” The greatest lessons can happen at any time of day and in any place.  Keep your eyes open: observe—but if you don’t understand what you’re seeing—speak up!  I can guarantee you that your peers are having the same concerns.

Gregory L. Darrow, MD
Class of 1974

Keep an open mind and listen to your heart. Medicine is a huge field and doesn’t just include traditional bedside clinical medicine. We are entering an era of change and relative uncertainty in our profession. As much as we need great clinicians, we will need bright young minds that can influence policy. We will need thinkers. Regardless best of luck on your journey ahead.

Ryan Venis, MD
Class of 2002

Many years ago, my mentor was Dr. Roy Behnke. I followed him to the University of South Florida. He used to say that when a patient put their trust in you, often, their life in your hands, it is the greatest honor you could ever attain. Because of that trust, you and the patient enter into a contract. Your obligation at that point is to try to ensure that that patient gets the best care possible, sometimes by you, sometimes from your consultants. The contract has nothing to do with money, or prestige of the patient, or dictates of insurance companies or hospitals. You are honoring their trust in you. You become their advocate through the complicated and dangerous turmoil that is medicine. There are many “bottom lines” in medicine, but remember, that patient’s care is the one you take an oath for.

Kelly Chambers, MD
Class of 1971

Make sure to keep an open mind about your future specialty because you never know you might enjoy one you thought you never would or vice versa.  I changed my specialty choice 5 times in medical school although every one of them revolved around pediatrics.

David Stiasny, MD
Class of 2007

You have chosen the most influential, satisfying, and fun career out there! There is light at the end of the tunnel, and I promise that if you keep smiling and enjoying every day that you are at work, your colleagues and coworkers will flock toward you and bring you success! Keep striving to become the best!  Contact me anytime if you need some advice! Best of luck!

Eduardo Salinas, MD
Class of 2014

Most important is to keep balance in your life. Study hard. But I also strongly recommend having other things than medicine as priorities. Have friends that are not in med school with you. Have interests and hobbies that are not medical related. I think this approach will pay off in the long run. You will be a more rounded person. You will enjoy life more, will not burn out on medicine and actually will be a better physician.

David Giles, MD

Class of 1971

Congratulations!  Remember, getting in was the easy part!  Lots of hard work ahead, but since you made it this far, you can make it to the finish line.  You don’t have to be superhuman to do this.  Work hard, be diligent, be consistent, be organized, eat well, sleep, exercise.  Stay in touch with family and friends.  Life isn’t what may happen someday; it is what is happening today!  Don’t get overwhelmed.  If you need help, ask for it.

Good luck!!

Jeffrey T. Wade, MD
Class of 1988

Listen carefully and always be sure to notice the color of the patient’s eyes. That’s how they know you’re paying attention to them.

Stanley Brosman, MD
Class of 1959

  1. Treat the patient, not the chart. If the patient’s history, clinical presentation and history don’t make sense, compared to the test result, question the test result.
  2. We don’t want the treatment to be worse than the disease.
  3. If you are going into primary care or OB-GYN, be aware that those specialties treat 66% of all mental illness in the United States. Learn as much practical psychiatry as you can.

David K. Hilton, MD
Class of 1987

I urge you to enter Medical School with an open mind as to what specialty you will choose and focus on each class and rotation with interest and enthusiasm. This is what I did, and in the end chose Family Medicine and its scope and breadth and special relationship with your patients.

Robert Kurt Nicewander, MD
Class of 1967

Don’t decide what specialty that you want to do right away. Take time to experience everything before you make your decision. Also, get involved in as many activities as you can!

Jamie Kondis MD
Class of 2006

Medical School will test not only cognitive ability but determination as well.   With the right attitude, you are halfway there.

Ryan Meyer, MD
Class of 1999

Don’t take being a doctor too seriously. Be a human being first.

George Austin, MD
Class of 1968

Read, study, practice. Learn 120% more than you need to. That’s what got Dean Walter Daly, MD a successful career. Stay curious. Learn that anatomy. Learn that physiology.
Then when you get to the clinical years continually ask “WHY”?  Why did this disease come on when it did? Why did that one die and the other did not? Why did that molecule cause blindness, and only in some patients?  etc. etc.

Jim Ch. Hirschman, MD
Class of 1955

Most importantly, care about your patients and listen to them, then they will often be able to tell you what is wrong or, at least, better enable you to solve their problem.
If the patient knows you truly want to help them, not just use them to make a living, they will tell you the truth and help you get to the essence of their disorders. Accomplish the above instructions, and you will so enjoy your profession, you’ll never want to retire.

Ronald C. Demas, MD
Class of 1965

Anyone can gain the knowledge requisite to the practice of any given specialty in medicine. What makes you stand out is your ability to take direction, your desire to continually learn, and your integrity.

Morgan Barron, MD
Class of 2014

There is nothing more important than the subjects of our work, people. There is nothing more important than human interaction.  What a privilege is our work!

Louis Ruvolo, MD
Class of 1966

Just take care of patients and they will take care of you.

Paul Szotek, MD
Class of 2002

We frequently do our patients a disservice by making a diagnosis because we quit thinking.

Walt Beaver, MD
Class of 1974

The Science of Medicine is built by study, it never ends for a good physician. The Art of Medicine is built by experience, start getting all the experience you can in Medical School and continue it throughout your career.

Carl Pafford, MD
Class of 1999

Congrats to you, future doctor! Today’s white coat ceremony is a major accomplishment and a symbolic moment in your journey. You follow many generations of IU physicians who eagerly took this first step years ago.  Focus these next 4 years. When it gets hard, lean on each other or family or a mentor.

Remember that everything you learn will help you become a smart, compassionate doctor. You will blink and suddenly be ready to enter residency and take care of your own patients and develop your own style.  Don’t forget that you have a unique personality and talent that you bring to the art of medicine. Keep your own health as a top priority throughout the journey. Caring and being kind to yourself will allow you to be the best physician you can be.  Don’t forget what a mentor once told me… strong mind, strong body.

Amy Dreischerf, MD
Class of 2014

The summer between 1st and second years of medical school I was given this wise advise that has served me well:
When choosing a field of specialty…ask the doctors you meet what is the least pleasant thing about that specialty.  Remember their answers.  Make sure that you pay attention to them when you choose your specialty…..You can RARELY AVOID these issues, so be sure they are not a big problem for you. Also figure out what it is that those physicians do 70% of the time…..as an obstetrician I spend 3 times as much time doing prenatal care as I do delivering babies…..for me I love providing prenatal care so that has work out well.

Rolf Loescher, MD
Class of 1985

Indiana University’s medical school provided me with the tools for a long and satisfying practice. Take advantage of every clinical opportunity. Your patients will teach you!
Best wishes for a bright future.

S Clarke Smith, MD
Class of 1961

Congratulations! This is a great, new adventure. There will be lots of ups and downs but you’ll make it through.  Keep your family and friends close. Make sure you take breaks and vacations. Medicine is life not just a career. You might have times of doubt but focus on the prize at the end. Don’t forget to ask for help. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign that you know yourself and you’re growing.

Sarah Delima, MD
Class of 2008

Be kind to everyone – your patients, your peers, others on the healthcare team, and yourself.  People won’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Be kind to all.

Clif Knight, MD
Class of 1987

Take care of yourself. Wear your white coat with pride. Always remember why you are here– the person you are helping is your first priority.

Shannon Oates, MD
Class of 1988

Congrats on being accepted to medical school and starting your first year! It’s such an exciting time. It is also a challenging and stretching time, although I can tell you I have never regretted my decision to pursue a career in medicine. I would encourage you to work hard, starting your first day of class. Don’t get to the end of your second year feeling that if you’d only worked harder, you could have considered more competitive specialties. Put yourself in a position where you can determine your future, instead of someone else. At the same time, know your mental and physical limits. Take an entire day off once or twice a month. Sleep in. Exercise. Seek counsel from medical students ahead of you and also from family and friends who care about you. It’s a tough journey, and it looks different for everyone. Finally (and most importantly), don’t lose sight of why you chose medicine in the first place. It will sustain you through the difficult exams, the long days on your surgery clerkships, and the long calls you will take as a resident.

Katelyn Bennett, MD
Class of 2013

If you are interested in research as part of your future career, connect as early as possible with someone who has successfully navigated this path in order to guide you through the process, preferably someone who has also successfully mentored others previously.

David Beversdorf, MD
Class of 1992

Stay focused during the 1st year of your classes with the end in mind:  you will be taking care of patients in the near future for whom the knowledge you gain in the first years of medical school may prove extremely valuable.

James E. Heubi, MD
Class of 1973

It is an honor and a blessing to study medicine. Enjoy the experience and the ability to use your skills to care for others.

Karen Wheeler, MD
Class of 1990

Simply, listen to the nurses.

Richard S. Hansell, MD
Class of 1976

Much of what you will learn will change within a few years. The most important thing is to view your medical education as a foundation for life-long learning!

Edward Dodge, MD
Class of 1962

If you spend time taking a thorough history the patient will tell you what is wrong with them 80-90% of the time.  Lab tests and a physical exam will confirm what you already heard.

Ed Wagoner, MD
Class of 1963

You will learn more medicine from your patients than from your textbooks. When you have finished an encounter with a patient, you should know the color of their eyes.

Kelly Chambers, MD
Class of 1971

When choosing a specialty, you should not pick solely based on what is most interesting to you.  If you are married, you should consider what your spouse desires.  If you are single and desire to have a family someday, you should consider how a particular career will affect your ability to be an excellent spouse and/or parent someday.  Try to always think several “life steps” ahead about how each specialty will affect other aspects of life.  Using your career to shape your identity may be exciting initially, but will ultimately not be fulfilling.

Daniel Fox, MD
Class of 2012

Spend some time each day reading and thinking about your relationships, how to improve them in family, patients, fellow workers. Take time each day to read something outside the medical field to keep in balance your awareness of the big picture in our world.  William Osler, MD is my model in medicine.  Keep growing in the Cs I discovered to be my greatest source of success and happiness: CREATIVITY….COMMUNICATIONS….CONFLICT  RESOLUTION… CONFIDENCE… COMPASSION….CAREFULNESS… CONCERN… CHOICE… CHANGE… CONTROL OVER STRESS… CONTROL OVER MONEY… CONTROL IN THE FAMILY…. COMMITMENT… CARPE DIEM!!!

Ed Hollenberg, MD
Class of 1952

Your medical education will be many years of personal sacrifice and challenges with the reward of a career that gives you the unique opportunity to serve all mankind every day of your life.  Your learning and education will continue the entire duration your medical career and give you the personal reward of knowing you are making the world a better place.

Robert K. Stoelting, MD
Class of 1964

You are about to begin a great adventure that will be filled with both personal and academic challenges.  There will be times in the first two years of school that you will question your decision to pursue this profession.  The academic work load and expectations are immense and you will think that it is impossible to learn it all.  With perseverance and hard work you will make it and the rewards are certainly well worth the efforts.

Thomas G. Slama, MD
Class of 1973

So many facts, figures, algorithms, oh my.  Try to not learn by rote, but seek to find out where they originated and why they have been accepted.  Then they will stick with you and give you a solid foundation to grow on.

Nicholas Timm, MD
Class of 1975

If you’d like to submit a note for next year’s ceremony or for a graduating Class of 2018 medical student at Commencement, please fill out the online form.

Author

Ryan Bowman

Director of Alumni Relations