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Members of the SOM Class of 2020 Graduate Early and Enter the Fight Against COVID-19

On April 8, a month ahead of schedule, more than 100 students from the School of Medicine (SOM) Class of 2020 graduated early.

April 20, 2020
Patrick Kennedy and Helicopter Headshot
Patrick Kennedy, M.D. ’20

Jerry L. Nadler, M.D., MACP, FAHA, FACE, dean of the School of Medicine, consulted with the  executive committee of the Faculty Senate and with the approval of the academic affairs committee of the Board of Trustees, a plan to coordinate the early graduation was set in motion and executed swiftly by Jane M. Ponterio, M.D. '81, senior associate dean for student affairs of the SOM and her team.

According to Dr. Nadler, the decision made by many NYMC’s eligible medical students to graduate early highlights the incredible humanistic character of this class of medical students, who willingly entered the COVID-19 battlegrounds ahead of schedule for the greater good. "Since the COVID-19 crisis began here in New York, our students have truly risen to the challenge, displaying an incredible spirit of volunteerism and humanism. Choosing to graduate early will allow them to continue to take on a vital role to help during this pandemic,” he explains.

Take for example, Patrick Kennedy, M.D. ’20, who matched as a resident in internal medicine at Greenwich Hospital, where he has accepted the hospital’s offer to start his residency early. Dr. Kennedy starts his residency on April 27—more than two months ahead of schedule. “When I first learned about the option for early graduation, I knew I had to opt-in. New York Medical College and the hospitals have given so much to train us to where we are now, and I am pleased to have the chance to utilize the training at a time when it is needed most,” he explains. “While I am nervous about starting amidst the current pandemic, I am grateful for the opportunity to contribute.”

Kaisen Yao, M.D. ’20, who has already started his work as a doctor at Northwell Health in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village in Manhattan, says, "I decided to graduate early because I had met all graduation requirements early and wanted to make myself available in case an opportunity arose to help with the COVID-19 pandemic.” Dr. Yao continues, “Fortunately, I am able to work as a graduate physician for Northwell Health as part of their COVID-19 Response Team. Working at an intern level to help take care of ICU step-down COVID-19 patients from Lenox Hill Hospital and assist in managing discharge to a safe place for continued self-isolation once they are stable, the experience has been phenomenal so far. It has been a great way to give back to the community while being a tremendous and unique educational opportunity and preparation for my intern year."

Of the incredible spirit of professionalism, selflessness and humanism being displayed by NYMC’s recent graduates, Dr. Nadler says, “We are proud of the hard work, dedication and tenacity our medical students have displayed over the course of their time at New York Medical College as they advanced through the past four years of rigorous medical education. I know they now possess the knowledge and clinical skills needed to play a vital role at the frontline of health care—as they face the COVID-19 pandemic, join their matched residencies and continue on the path to becoming outstanding physicians.”

In a letter to the early graduates, Edward C. Halperin, M.D., M.A., chancellor and chief executive officer, wrote, “You begin your careers as physicians at a time of particular peril to individual patients, to the medical infrastructure of the United States, and to the social fabric of western democracies. No matter what the vicissitudes are of the present, however, medicine will cling to its eternal verities as a learned profession. You now  take your place in that long line of women and men in that learned profession, stretching backward and forward in time and garbed in white coats, who have devoted themselves to the relief of pain, the amelioration of suffering, and to helping people avoid, to the extent possible, premature death. May a merciful Providence spread its sheltering wings over you and protect and guide you, young doctors of the New York Medical College.”

Patrick Kennedy, M.D. '20 and Lillian Chau, SOM Class of 2021 Kaisen Yao, M.D. ’20

Left Photo: Patrick Kennedy, M.D. ’20, and Jun-Mei Troung. Second Photo: Kaisen Yao, M.D. ’20.