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Student Clinician Ceremony Marks Start of Clinical Years for SOM Class of 2024

Several Speakers Offered Advice To The Students On This Milestone Occasion

July 25, 2022
GHHS Class of 2024
GHHS Class of 2024 Student Clinician Ceremony

“Congratulations on reaching this enormous milestone in your medical career. You can now really put your white coats to work,” said Jerry Nadler, M.D., SOM dean and professor of medicine and pharmacology. “You will have a great opportunity as future healers to make an impact, have opportunities in technology and in treatments, prevention and reversal of some diseases that I never had. But one thing remains the same. It can't be overstated what an honor and privilege it is to take care of people in the most vulnerable times.”

Dr. Nadler went on to advise the students to remember they are part of a team treating patients and to appreciate the value of those they are working with; to keep an open mind during each phase of their clerkships, even if it not a specialty they think they are interested in; to think about opportunities for scholarship; and above all respect the humanistic side of medicine.

“It's hard to believe that just one year ago I was sitting in your shoes, feeling very excited, yet fairly anxious about starting third year and having to actually talk to patients, let alone handle their medical requests,” said Samuel Honig, SOM Class of 2023, co-president of GHHS. “Very few people have the privilege of experiencing all that you are about to – a direct impact on a person's health and well-being. Your status as a caregiver opens a special door, giving you privileged access into the intricacies of people personal lives. It will be up to you to seize those moments and walk through those doors.”

“Take those extra few minutes to engage your patient in conversation. Be sure to embrace all aspects of your interactions with all of your patients,” continued Mr. Honig. “You will have the ability to form a differential diagnosis for the teenager presenting with leg pain and fever for the past week. You will also have the privilege of comforting his parents who are nervous and frustrated about the variety of procedures their son needs to properly diagnose and treat his osteomyelitis.”

During her keynote address to students, Andrea Porrovecchio, M.D. ’02, assistant professor of medicine and section chief for general internal medicine at Westchester Medical Center, shared the insights she had gained during her medical career, which included active duty in the U.S. Air Force, where she was deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom as a critical care team chief, and on the front lines in a busy New York City hospital during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There’s growth at every transition you go through and lessons I've taken from each step of my medical career. What is at the heart of what makes it worthwhile is the connection with team members and most importantly that there's a patient at the center of it all,” said Dr. Porrovecchio. “At this next stage for you, there will be wisdom everywhere -- certainly from your attendings and residents, but also the nurses, nutritionists and pharmacists.  Listen with humility and absorb everything you can learn.”

Dr. Porrovecchio recalled that perhaps her most profound lesson came when she became a COVID-19 patient herself admitted to her own hospital. “Seeing the other side as a patient affected me deeply. It's changed how I doctor and how I communicate with patients and their families and how I train house staff,” she said. “I remember being in my room alone and terrified, just waiting for someone to come in, some connection, some information. I needed someone to look me in the eyes or hold my hand and tell me I was going to get through this.”

“That experience gave me a clarity that practicing medicine for almost 20 years had not. A patient may be having the worst day of their life but more than treatment they'll be looking to you for help and hope, because humanity is at the center of it all,” Dr. Porrovecchio said. “Connection with your patients and with your colleagues is the secret sauce. And being a committed member of a team is what makes it all work.”

The GHHS Student Clinician Ceremony was also an opportunity to recognize six residents chosen by the SOM Class of 2023 with Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Awards for their exceptional teaching skills and commitment to the compassionate treatment of patients and families, students and colleagues. This year’s honorees included:

Emily Groenendaal, M.D.
Psychiatry Resident, Westchester Medical Center

Yarden Bornovski, M.D.
Neurology Resident, Westchester Medical Center

Amythis Soltani, M.D.
Obstetrics and Gynecology Resident, Westchester Medical Center

Mahir Gachabayov, M.D.
Surgery Resident, Westchester Medical Center

Shekhar Gogna, M.D.
Surgery Resident, Westchester Medical Center

Bryce Ratliff, M.D.
Family Medicine Resident, St. Joseph’s Medical Center