The Stony Brook University Renaissance School of Medicine welcomed its incoming 2021 class at the annual White Coat Ceremony on August 15. A total of 136 students donned their white coats for the first time and took the Hippocratic Oath at a ceremony in the Staller Center. They begin their medical training during a year that marks the 50th anniversary of the school.
William Wertheim, MD, Interim Dean, cited the students as a unique and talented incoming class entering medicine at a challenging and changing time in the profession. He emphasized professionalism and compassion for patients as two of the leading areas that they will need to develop and build on in their medical school training years.
A large portion of the class hails from New York State (69 percent), yet many students are from all over including 13 other U.S. states and five countries. They are among a select group, as the school received more than 5,800 applications for a position in the class.
“I feel like entering the medical field during these pandemic times will give my class a humbler perspective on medicine,” said student Jessica Kwong, who majored in psychology and linguistics at Emory University. “I have no idea what I want to specialize in, but during the pandemic I worked with the elderly populations and organized a tele-volunteer initiative. I do plan on working with underserved populations, which is why I minored in Spanish so I can use it in my practice as a future physician.”
“This pandemic has shown me just how critical physicians are, and I am excited to see how myself and classmates can help in the COVID-19 crisis,” said Michelle Carfagno, who started to become very interested in medicine at age 12 when she had a knee injury. A Cornell University graduate who majored in biological sciences, Carfagno is very interested in the relationship between nutrition and disease and is considering a path in primary care or perhaps specializing in GI diseases at some point.
Career-changer Carlos Ortiz worked in the area of supply chain management, but was also a volunteer EMT and found the work fulfilling. That service, along with his interest in maintaining physical health and supporting others to do the same, inspired him to pursue medicine. Ortiz also found himself on the front lines during the pandemic, which he says further helped prep him for medical school.
As the need for more physicians continues in the U.S. and worldwide due to aging populations, increased medical interventions, and a new lens on public health due to the pandemic, it’s fitting that the 2021 incoming class is one of the school’s largest to date. Four members of the school’s first entering class of 1971 attended the ceremony to celebrate with the new students. That class included only 24 individuals, 16 men and eight women.