Medical students enter a new phase of learning

May 20, 2014 11:00 AM

Arthur Nead

As medical students at the Tulane University School of Medicine entered their clinical training during their third year this month, they inaugurated a new tradition: the first Student Clinician’s Ceremony. 

Student Clinician's Ceremony

Third-year Tulane medical students hear from medical residents who exemplify humanism in medicine, including Dr. Pavan Thangudu, at the first Student Clinician’s Ceremony on May 7. (Photo by Guillermo Cabrera-Rojo)

“The ceremony is basically to prepare rising third-year students for their clinical experience, which is very different from the prior two years,” says Melissa Keeport, a third-year medical student and an organizer of the event. “The first two years are spent almost entirely in the classroom. They are entirely science-based, and students are not working with any patients or patient families.”

The idea and funding for the Student Clinician’s Ceremony came from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, which promotes humanism in medicine. 

In another event, the annual White Coat Ceremony, held at Tulane since 1995, incoming medical students receive white coats as a symbol of their new responsibilities, and their idealism is high. 

“But the first two years of medical school are grueling, and by your third year you are tired,” says Dr. Pritesh Gandhi, a third-year medicine/pediatrics resident and the keynote speaker at the ceremony.

Gandhi and other speakers refocused on the ideals of care and empathy for patients.  

“It was a moment to come together and share experiences and stories, and explain to the students that they are now leaving the world of science and entering the art of medicine,” Gandhi says.

“Time and time again, we realize that physicians who care about their patients, who spend longer than two minutes in the exam room, who put their hand on their shoulders, not only do these patients feel better about this encounter, the health outcomes of the patients are better,” says Gandhi.

As the ceremony on May 7 concluded, the medical students recited the Oath of Maimonides, an ancient pledge by physicians to care for their patients from a desire to do good. 

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