March 20, 2022

Inaugural Clinicians Ceremony for Class of 2024

Classmates show off the stethoscope and pledge they received at the Clinicians Ceremony.

The Wayne State University School of Medicine’s Class of 2024 started medical school in 2020, only four months after the COVID-19 pandemic began. The pandemic forced the cancellation of all in-person teaching and events, including the traditional White Coat Ceremony usually held after first-year orientation. Instead, the students completed the majority of course work virtually.

School of Medicine administration wanted to give the group of more than 300 a chance to be together for the first time since orientation nearly two years ago, and mark the transition to the clinical years of medical school. The solution was the Wayne State University School of Medicine’s inaugural Clinicians Ceremony, held March 18 from 4 to 6 p.m. at MotorCity Soundboard Auditorium in Detroit.

“I venture to say you’ve endured more than any other class in the history of the School of Medicine,” Associate Dean of Student Affairs Margit Chadwell, M.D. ’94, told the crowd. 

Twins and classmates Jerry and Lewis Graham attended the ceremony together.

Class of 2024 student Connor Cook was among the event’s speakers. He acknowledged the difficulties and triumphs his classmates experienced by starting medical school in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic. He noted less-than-ideal work conditions, long quarantines and losing loved ones to the virus. Then he lit a white candle, symbolizing the light his classmates were determined to bring to the darkness of the pandemic.

“When the world was shutting down, we were given the honor to rise up,” Cook said.

The ceremony celebrated students from the Class of 2024 before they embark on a pivotal segment of their medical education journey: the beginning of core clinical clerkships in hospital and clinics.

“It’s really nice to see everyone and come together, and go on to the next chapter,” said Class of 2024 student Riley Reed.

During clerkships, students engage in direct patient care alongside doctors, residents and other members of the health care team to learn and gain experience in primary care and medical specialties. The ceremony was coordinated with the school’s Gold Humanism Honors Society chapter, underscoring the challenges and imperatives in providing compassionate, collaborative and excellent care to all patients.

“It’s exciting to bring everything we’ve learned from the computer screen into the hospital,” said Lewis Graham, who attended the event with his twin brother and classmate Jerry Graham.

The siblings agreed that having each other has made the last two years of learning online a manageable challenge.

“It helps with building strong coping skills,” Jerry Graham said. “It’s easy to be empathetic and understanding.”

President M. Roy Wilson hands a pin to a student to wear on her white coat.

Clerkship directors presented their incoming students with a symbolic gift of a WSU School of Medicine-branded stethoscope, reinforcing the sacredness of the doctor-patient relationship through physician connectedness to the heartbeat of the patient. They also received pins to wear on their white coats as a reminder of their duty to their patients and their profession. The pins were handed to the students by various members of Wayne State leadership who took turns as pin givers, including WSU President M. Roy Wilson and School of Medicine Interim Dean Wael Sakr, M.D.

The ceremony concluded with Associate Dean of Clinical Education Christopher Steffes, M.D., leading the class in the Pledge of Ethics and Professionalism: Wayne Warrior M.D. Physicians-in Training Principles of Professional Identity. The pledge was written by a School of Medicine committee of faculty for the medical students.

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