On Friday, December 15, 2017, the UAB School of Health Professions held their Graduate Professional Programs Hooding Ceremony. More than 2,000 friends and family witnessed 183 of the school’s 224 graduates join the UAB alumni family. The event was held at the Sheraton Birmingham Ballroom.

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The commencement speaker was Christopher M. Brainard, MSHA, FACHE. In addition to being an alumnus of our Master of Science in Health Administration – Executive Format and a member of our Dean’s Advisory Board, Brainard is senior director of Patient Experience and Engagement for the UAB Health System. This is a system, which sees more than 1.35 million patients in Kirklin Clinic and their outreach clinics every year.

Brainard told the Class of 2017 – which included graduates from Biotechnology, Clinical Laboratory Sciences, Healthcare Quality and Safety, Nuclear Medicine Technology, Nutrition Sciences, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy and Physician Assistant Studies – “we will all play the role of the patient, one day.”

Brainard Podium IIChristopher M. Brainard, MSHA, FACHE“If we are all suffering from the human condition – then what you want as a patient is very similar to what I want as a patient,” said Brainard. “We all want to feel safe, valued and heard.  We all want people to care about personal needs and desires. We all want treatment when it will work and we want comfort when it will not.”

Brainard quoted Maya Angelou, who said “We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike.”

He also told the Class of 2017, that yes, they now have “Knowledge that will change your world.” But to be truly called a “healer” they need more than knowledge.

“The frailty of the human condition cannot be treated with spreadsheets or strategic plans and it cannot be delivered through algorithms and web interfaces,” said Brainard. “And while medical conditions can be treated by interventions and protocols, the human condition can only be treated with empathy and compassion. This means the words we say are just as important as the things we do. Excellence in health care comes through outcomes plus empathy.”

Brainard closed by telling the Class of 2017 that every patient experience is a story and every story comes to an end one way or the other:

Flag Bearer“You have the power to write this story and it is your job to make sure the story ends well,” said Brainard. “Will you write a story filled with anguish and pain? Or will you write a story where excellence prevails through outcomes with empathy – a story where our hero the patient is surrounded by a team that understands their personal needs and helps them end their journey well? Use your knowledge to write a story that you, and we, are proud to tell.”

The ceremony included UAB Vice President of Financial Affairs Allen Bolton and Graduate School Dean Lori McMahon, Ph.D. In addition to School of Health Professions Dean Harold P. Jones, Ph.D., the School’s platform party included Macebearer Donna Slovensky, Ph.D., Katie Adams, Ted Bertrand, Ph.D., Janelle Chiasera, Ph.D., W. Timothy Garvey, M.D., Gavin Jenkins, Ph.D., Christy Harris Lemak, Ph.D., Patrick McNees, Ph.D., David Morris, Ph.D., Midge Ray, Ph.D., Tracee Synco, Ph.D., and Melanie Talbot, MBA.

The School of Health Professions’ tradition of holding the Graduate Professional Programs Hooding Ceremony began in 2015. In addition to this ceremony, on Saturday, the school saw undergraduate students from Biomedical Sciences and Health Care Management graduate at the UAB commencement and doctoral students from the Executive Doctoral Program in Administration-Health Services (DSc) and the PhD in Rehabilitaion Science program participate in the UAB doctoral hooding ceremony.