Class of 2016 Earns Privilege of Being Called ‘Physician’

By April Wilkerson
Writer, OU College of Medicine

Members of the Class of 2016 stepped into the profession of medicine this spring, earning the right to place “M.D.” after their names and moving forward in their educational journey.

Those students are now headed to academic medical centers across the nation to begin their residencies, where they will become more deeply immersed in the disciplines they have chosen. Class President Ganga Moorthy captured her class’s sense of triumph and apprehension at the hard work yet to come.

After graduating from the OU College of Medicine, students sign a book, where they place “M.D.” after their names for the first time.

 “No doubt there will be many more moments of uncertainty yet to come during residency and beyond, but it is my hope that this trepidation is what continues to fuel and humble us,” Moorthy said during the Student Response portion of Commencement. “I hope that we always remember how it feels to be given this responsibility. I hope we acknowledge the intimidation and hesitation that we feel today and translate those feelings into empathy for our patients. Just as this ceremony is for us, we’ll be creating transitions in others’ lives and will have the privilege to be a part of moments that, for them, are as significant as today is for us.”

Serving as guest speaker for Commencement was Doug Cox, M.D., an alumnus of the OU College of Medicine who also serves in the Oklahoma House of Representatives. In his 35 years of practicing medicine, he has seen numerous advances and changes made possible by technology. In the early days of his practice, for example, CT scans weren’t readily available, so Cox and his peers sent patients to have their appendixes removed without the benefit of a confirming X-ray.

 “Technology has improved things, and you will see a lot of changes in technology during your career. Embrace technology,” Cox said. “But technology will never replace the human touch. Shake your patients’ hands. Look them in the eye. Touch them on the shoulder. It is our kindness, our compassion and our human touch that has enabled our profession to gain and maintain the highest respect.”

Graduating medical students enjoy a few moments Saturday prior to the beginning of Commencement.

Physicians, because of their experience with the human body, have a unique perspective on humanity, Cox said.

 “Physicians have looked inside the human body. We have put our hands inside the human body. What an honor and privilege that is, and how few people get to do that,” he said. “Because of that experience, I think physicians tend to know that all human beings -- regardless of their socioeconomic status, what their exterior color is, what religion they are, what their political beliefs are, or what country they come from -- are all the same inside. We treat them all with respect, concern and compassion. We put our hearts and souls into our work to make their lives more functional, pain-free and, most importantly, for them to live longer. Chances are that the person you’re working on, no matter how old or how infirm they are, would like to live at least one more year. Just give me one more year, doctor. That’s life – it’s so precious.”