The osteopathic medical students who honed their skills and embraced humanism at Western University of Health Sciences are ready to change the world, one patient at a time.
WesternU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific held its Commencement, Hooding and Oath Ceremony for its Pomona, California campus May 15, 2020 via Zoom.
“Today marks a very special day and it represents a true, tremendous milestone for our graduates,” said COMP Dean Paula Crone, DO ’92. “Even though this is not how we were planning to celebrate this Commencement, and we miss not being able to be with you in person, we are still grateful that we had the opportunity to be part of your education and we are all very proud of you today. We hope to make this virtual ceremony as special as we possibly can, and we look forward to the time when the world rights itself and we can celebrate in person with you.”
WesternU Board of Trustees member Gene Barduson, MMath, served as the keynote speaker. He first joined WesternU as a member of the COMP Dean’s Advisory Council. He visited campus 15 years ago and witnessed the medical students’ memorial service for those who donated their bodies for the advancement of medicine and medical education. The ceremony was filled with original music, personalized poems and eulogies, all from the students, and all from their hearts, Barduson said.
“Something happened to me that day. I learned what humanism is,” he said. “I witnessed what it meant to this group of men and women working so hard to master the skills needed to be a physician. They were also evidencing the compassion of what it is to be a humanistic physician. I learned that day what a special place WesternU is.”
Commencement speakers are supposed to give graduates words of encouragement, but it is the graduates who are the inspiration, Barduson said. These graduates will turn technology into personalized medicine, address the crisis of behavioral health by treating and preventing depression, addiction and abuse, and join their colleagues on the front lines to find innovative solutions for diseases such as COVID-19.
“How is it I know you are up to the task? You have the skills, you have the dedication and you have the passion,” Barduson said. “But you have more than that. You have the signature gift of humanism. You have the ability to listen with your heart. This is what I witnessed 15 years ago at that very special ceremony. This is what you and all WesternU grads know and feel. You are our inspiration. The current crisis will pass, but the challenges will remain. May God be with you on that journey.”
Each graduate’s name was read by COMP faculty members as their photo and a quote appeared onscreen, and the graduate was encouraged to have a friend or family member hand them a symbolic diploma at home.
COMP Vice Dean David Connett, DO ’84, administered the Osteopathic Oath. Crone closed the ceremony by congratulating graduates and telling them this moment is especially poignant and personal because of what this class has endured.
“As you finish medical school and celebrate this proud milestone, you prepare to enter the frontlines of a battle against diseases of all kinds, not just COVID-19,” Crone said. “There will be new battles to overcome and new challenges to conquer. But with them comes the opportunity to serve, to build knowledge and to discover new things.”
Whether they are entering surgery, primary care, labor and delivery or another specialty, each graduate will be serving mankind in many ways, she said.
“You are entering a profession whose ranks choose to take on the responsibility of helping to impact and change lives every single day, one patient at a time,” Crone said. “You will soon be given a chance to help shape, define and improve upon what the practice of medicine looks like. You will be right in the midst of it all as it transforms in front of you. Spend your life honing your expertise, your knowledge, and your skills, but never lose your humanity, your compassion, and your care. We are all proud of you and we can’t wait to see how you are going to change our world. And trust me, you are already changing our world.”