Vickers at podiumSelwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACSDonning the white coat for the first time is a potent symbol of a student’s entrance into the medical profession. Our annual White Coat Ceremony for entering students gives them the opportunity to celebrate that milestone with family and friends, and to take a moment to reflect on the commitment they are making to serve others.

At our White Coat Ceremony, held this year on August 16, the entering class of 2015 continued the tradition of reciting a mission statement they had composed as a group during their Patient, Doctor, and Society course. The statement read: 

"Today and every day, we promise to embrace our responsibility as part of the medical family, upholding the high standards set by others before us. As a class, we will approach any obstacle with perseverance and positivity. With a spirit of camaraderie, we pledge to respect and appreciate the strengths and weaknesses we find within ourselves, each other, and all others we encounter. As part of the medical profession, we will strive for excellence by devoting our care to the ethical treatment of the entire person. As a member of society, we will seek to serve for the betterment of our communities, promoting a happy and healthy society. We commit ourselves to serve with integrity, compassion, and humility. As we increase our knowledge in the science of medicine, we must never forget that our true calling is to our patients as people."

Keynote speaker was Nicholas Van Wagoner, M.D., Ph.D., our new assistant dean for students, who told the class: “Treat your White Coat as a cloak of compassion, of professionalism, of truthfulness and honesty—both with your patients and yourself.” The full text of his brief remarks is linked here, and I encourage you to read it. You will see why we have chosen him for this important role in our School.

Nicholas Van WagonerNicholas Van Wagoner, M.D., Ph.D.We established a new tradition for the School that day: a luncheon preceding the White Coat Ceremony honoring our legacies – students whose parents, grandparents, sibling, or other family member also graduated from our School or completed residency or fellowship training here. At the luncheon, 22 third- and fourth-year students were inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society, and the Medical Alumni Association honored three alumni – Daniel M. Avery Jr., M.D. ’82, FACOG, FACS; Susan D. McCollum, M.D. ’73; and the late Henry Spira, M.D. ’50 – with the Martha Myers Role Model Award.

We also recognized Kevin J. Leon, M.D., 1999 internal medicine resident and 2002 pulmonary fellow, as the 2015 recipient of the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award. Dr. Leon is currently associate professor of medicine in the Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, and is a perennial winner of the Argus Awards, presented by students to the SOM’s best teachers.

A video of the full White Coat Ceremony is available here. These students represent the future of medicine, and I know you will join me in welcoming them to what will no doubt be a transformational experience as they train to become tomorrow’s best doctors.

Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS
Senior Vice President for Medicine and Dean
James C. Lee Endowed Chair

Vickers-Bookcase2Today, the School of Medicine announces two philanthropic gifts honoring a husband-and-wife pair of beloved School of Medicine faculty members.

Along with her husband, Wayne H. Finley, M.D., Ph.D., the late Sara Crews Finley, M.D., co-founded the first medical genetics program in the southeastern United States, and was co-director of UAB’s Medical Genetics Laboratory for more than 30 years. She served as the first female president of our Medical Alumni Association and the Jefferson County Medical Society, among many other honors and awards.

Not only was Dr. Finley a visionary leader in her field, she was also a wise, kind, and generous mentor to countless people in and outside of the medical profession. As a member of our admissions committee for 20 years, Dr. Finley guided and advised hundreds of applicants seeking careers in medicine.

So it is only fitting that the Sara Crews Finley, M.D., Leadership Scholars Program—established by Dr. Wayne Finley and the couple’s daughter, Sara J. Finley, and son, Dr. Randall W. Finley, a School of Medicine alumnus—honors Dr. Sara Finley’s commitment to recognizing and supporting the aspirations of our top students. Sara Crews Finley, M.D., Leadership Scholars will be selected based on academic achievement and leadership skills, and will receive a full-tuition scholarship for their third and fourth years of medical school. Recipients will also receive a new white coat with special insignia indicating their status as Sara Crews Finley, M.D., Leadership Scholars at our annual White Coat Ceremony in August.

finleys-lo-resDr. Sara Crews Finley and Dr. Wayne Finley photo-4-lo-res(From left to right) Dr. Shirley Kahn, Dr. Wayne Finley, Dr. Randall Finley, Sara J. Finley, and Dr. Ray Watts. The Finley children have also honored their father’s dedication to UAB with a gift to rename the Reynolds Historical Library, a collection of more than 13,000 rare books and manuscripts pertaining to the history of medicine and dating from the 14th century, as the Reynolds-Finley Historical Library. This gift is especially fitting, given Dr. Wayne H. Finley’s love for medical history, as he has authored a number of articles and books relating to the history of the medical center in Birmingham, including the University of Alabama Medical Alumni Association, 1859-2003. He is also a founding member of the board of the Reynolds Associates at UAB’s Lister Hill Library.

As Professor Emeritus in the Department of Genetics, Dr. Wayne Finley has made it his life’s work to use his pioneering knowledge of the field of genetics to better the lives of Alabamians, and has served as a model of excellence and intellectual rigor for countless young physicians.

In addition, the Finley children have established an endowed support to enhance the Reynolds Historical Lectureship, which will be renamed the Reynolds-Finley Historical Lectureship.

On behalf of the entire School of Medicine family, I want to thank the Finley family for their generosity. These gifts ensure that the Finley legacy of discovery, dedication, and excellence will live on through generations of School of Medicine students yet to come.

Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS
Senior Vice President for Medicine and Dean
James C. Lee Endowed Chair