E komo mai. It is my kuleana to serve as Dean of the John A. Burns School of Medicine. In a former life, I grew upon on a farm in rural Washington State, attended public schools and practiced emergency medicine for 30+ years. I am humbled to welcome the families, supporters, friends, and distinguished guests to this event celebrating the start of these students’ journeys to becoming physicians. You will undoubtedly be these students’ first patients – they will benefit from that experience – I expect that you will as well.
White coat ceremonies are relatively new; they hadn’t been established in my day. After my first two years of medical school, I was told to buy a white coat and start examining patients in the clinics and hospitals affiliated with my medical school. I also examined my father who I had known to have heart problems beginning when he was a young adult. Indeed, to me, his activity had always been limited by his health. As a third year student the knowledge I had gained in terms of diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis – came together in a very personal way. I realized that my father was dying from advanced heart failure due to a leaking aortic valve. A new, but risky surgery could replace his heart valve. No one knew how long the heart valve might last, the quality of life he might experience after surgery or the complications that might occur years later, but it was the best option to extend his life beyond the year or two expected based upon his symptoms. So in my third year of medical school, I referred my own father to a cardiologist and thoracic surgeon and arranged for his heart surgery and assisted with post-operative care.
My father did die of heart failure, but it was 30 years later, and he had the same valve in place at the time of his death.I expect the experiences of these physicians in training and their journey at JABSOM will be as defining for them as the care of my father was for me. Remember: To whom much is given, much is expected. Mahalo.
In our photograph, Dean Hedges speaks to the Class of 2016 and their parents during the JABSOM Friends of the Medical School `Ohana Day Gathering on the day after the White Coat Ceremony, July 21, 2012. Tina Shelton photo.