May 20, 2013

169 graduate from the School of Medicine

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Be humble and be thankful. “Respect is not an entitlement. … That white coat does not make you a doctor.” 

David Chestnut, M.D., associate dean of the Western Academic Campus of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, spoke from personal experience as he addressed the 169 graduates of the School of Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham on Sunday, May 19, 2013.

After completing a residency in anesthesiology in the 1980s, Chestnut, a School of Medicine alumnus and former chair of Anesthesiology at UAB, started a residency in obstetrics and gynecology. He was, he admitted, arrogant. One day his chief resident told him his attitude was undermining his training. “The nurses hate you,” Chestnut told the graduates, their friends and family in Bartow Arena. “If you do not change, they will run you out of here.”

The young physician took the information to heart. He started saying “please” and “thank you,” and sought the nurses’ advice.  “They taught me a lot,” said Chestnut, whose son, Michael Chestnut, M.D., was among the class of 2013 and whose older son, John Mark, is a UAB resident in Emergency Medicine. “I learned that good teamwork skills are essential. Good relationships with nurses and other staff are critically important.”

As for the next phase of their lives, Chestnut told the graduates to “avoid thinking that your life is suspended until you complete your residency training.” Be glad, and thankful, he said, for the lessons of today.

Of the 169 graduates, 48 percent will remain in Alabama for training, and more than 70 percent will remain in the South, said Anupam Agarwal, M.D., interim senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the School of Medicine. 

The president of the 2013 class, Rohan Kambeyanda, M.D., received the Medical Alumni Association Community Leadership Award. In his address as president, Kambeyanda encouraged his classmates to “take care of our patients, take care of ourselves and be grateful for all that we have.” His next stop is the Medical University of South Carolina for surgical residency.

Jennifer Porter Bynum, M.D., a former music teacher in Florida and Tennessee, received the Hugh J. Dempsey Memorial Award for highest overall academic achievement over the four-year course of medical school. Bynum, who is married with two children, will train in pathology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

Michael Carlisle, M.D., and Amanda Dinsmore, M.D., received the Patient Communication Awards, sponsored by Proassurance Indemnity.

The Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Awards, sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, go to a graduate and a faculty member each year. The awardees this year are Kara Shea Graves, M.D., from the class of 2013, and Hussein Abdullatif, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics in Endocrinology.

Earlier on Sunday a separate ceremony was held for 14 graduates who will enter military training programs. Laura Kezar, M.D., associate dean for students and a Navy veteran, created the ceremony this year and invited a graduate of Samford’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy to participate.  Brigadier General Allen Harrell, director of the joint staff of the Alabama National Guard, was the presiding officer and administered the oath of office. Family and friends, many of them active duty or retired military personnel, pinned the military rank on the graduates’ uniforms.

Joining the U.S. Army from UAB is Capt. Rachel Cunningham, M.D., who is off to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

Joining the Navy are Lt. Marie Antoinette Blaize, M.D., who will serve from the UAB Health Center in Montgomery, Ala.; Lt. Jerry Bradley Jr., M.D., going to Portsmouth Naval Medical Center in Portsmouth, Va.; Lt. Hoyt Reynolds, M.D., going to the Naval Medical Center in San Diego; and Lt. Emily Stewart, M.D., going to Walter Reed.

Stewart’s husband, Capt. Jason Brown, M.D., received a deferment from the Air Force to complete emergency medicine training at the University of Maryland Medical Center in Baltimore. Also joining the Air Force are Capt. Joshua Coker, M.D., going to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio; Capt. Josua Tate, M.D., going to Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss.; and Capt. Paul Ward, M.D., going to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

Joining the Army National Guard are Capt. Jacop Hughes, M.D., who will join the UAB Internal Medicine residency program in Huntsville; Capt. Daniel Maxwell, M.D., who will be a resident in internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas; Capt. Vijal Patel, M.D., who will spend a year at Baptist Health System in Birmingham before going to anesthesiology residency at the University of Chicago; Capt. Whitney Tew, M.D., who will be a family medicine resident at St. Vincent’s East in Birmingham; and Capt. Marlon Williamson, M.D., who will be a family medicine resident at Floyd Medical Center in Rome, Ga.

Read more and see photos and videos on the School of Medicine’s Facebook page, For a full list of award winners from Sunday's ceremony, click here.