Dean’s Charge to the Class at White Coat 2012

Class of 2016, congratulations – you are now part of the medical school’s `ohana. This charge to the class at our white coat ceremony has been traditionally given by Judge James Burns, former President of the Friends of the Medical School, and son of the second governor of our great state after whom the School is named. Due to personal health problems, Judge Burns could not speak this evening. I do wish to convey his warm aloha to this class and the many family and friends who are here tonight. With his permission, I am borrowing his comments in my “charge” to the students.

Most of you have a long history and connection with our state and medical school, but a few are new to the John A. Burns School of Medicine. You will often hear the School called by its acronym “JABSOM”. Judge Burns often kidded me that “JAB some” is a very descriptive acronym for a medical school, given some patients will occasionally need to be jabbed with needles.

One of the unique features of JABSOM is its spirit of togetherness. We are all one big Medical School family (`ohana) supporting each other to advance individual and collective goals. Our `ohana includes students, faculty and staff, medical doctors and other healthcare providers, hospitals and other health-care facilities, alumni, relatives, donors, supporters and friends. JABSOM is more than a village …. More than an island …. It is an entire archipelago. Tonight is the beginning of a tremendous opportunity for you. You are now students at one of the best Medical Schools in the world. It is an opportunity that many sought but only you were chosen. You are a very select group of highly qualified students starting a long and difficult, but rewarding and satisfying, journey to become Doctors of Medicine. What you do with this opportunity is mostly up to you. You are full of excitement and anticipation.

The world of Medicine – the science and art of healing – is rapidly improving. Compare what Doctors could do in the days when your grandparents were youngsters with what Doctors can do today. Computers now guide laser surgery. Imagine what medical care you will be able to provide when you are practicing Medicine. Hopefully, the excitement and anticipation you are now experiencing will not inhibit your ability to hear and remember my Charge to you – one shared so elegantly by Judge Burns for so many years. Just to be certain, I ask your family and friends who are here this evening to listen to this Charge and to constantly remind you of it.

FIRST, I urge you to identify all those who helped this medical school to exist and who are helping it to flourish. Recognize that the taxpayers of Hawai`i are paying a substantial part of the cost of your medical education. Especially recognize those government officials who allocate those taxpayer dollars in support of it. Publicize JABSOM wherever and whenever you can. Encourage everyone you can to become members of the Friends of the Medical School and to participate in its activities. Start with tomorrow’s Ohana activities. Always remember that you are the best evidence of the quality of JABSOM’s medical education.

SECOND, I urge you to personally thank each and every person who has helped you prepare for admission to this medical school. I am speaking of family, friends, teachers, advisors, mentors, counselors, donors and others. Some of them are here this evening.

At the White Coat Ceremony, Class of 2016 Med Students

THIRD, I urge you to identify, appreciate and personally thank each and every person and organization providing you with the finances to pay for your Medical School education. If you are the recipient of financial assistance from a non-family source, take the time to educate yourself about the source of the funds and the reason the source provided the funds. If possible, personally thank the source of the funds and periodically keep that source informed about your progress. The UH Foundation staff who help solicit and administrate the JABSOM scholarships work hard to honor the many donors in our community who have great expectations for you. Please honor the donors and give back to the UH Foundation. Help the staff honor the donors and raise additional contributions to help future generations of doctors.

FOURTH, take full advantage of the education offered to you by this Medical School so that you will become, and always be, the very best Doctor of Medicine you can be in whatever area of practice you choose. Never stop learning. Although the benefits of good medical care are increasing every day, those benefits can be enjoyed only if, and to the extent, that you are fully capable of providing them.

FIFTH, do all you can to develop and improve your doctor-patient relationship skills and your “bedside manner”. Each of your patients is a unique person. Learn to listen, to understand, to be compassionate, to show that you are concerned and really care, and to do so with a true spirit of aloha.

SIXTH, do all you can to improve the quality of medical services provided by all other Doctors of Medicine, hospitals and other healthcare providers here in Hawai’i. We old folks sometimes think we know it all. Quite often, we need young folks like you to help us recognize our deficiencies and motivate us correct them.

Med Students, Class of 2016 taking the Hippocratic Qath.

SEVENTH, I urge all of you, including the out-of-state students, to commit yourselves to providing the people of Hawai`i and the Pacific with the kind of medical services they need and where they need it. Always recognize and appreciate the benefits afforded you by your predecessors by contributing to the benefit of those who will follow you. Respond by doing all you can to provide the future generations with the opportunities the present and the past generations have provided for you.

This concludes my Charge to you. It is a charge first written by Judge Burns and shared each year with our entering students. You now begin your long and difficult but exciting, stimulating and rewarding journey to becoming Doctors of Medicine. All who are a part of your JABSOM `ohana look forward to being involved in your progress and your success. To you and to your families, congratulations and aloha.

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