By Wendy Sarubbi | May 16, 2014 4:31 pm

With words like pioneer, partner, service and love, 55 College of Medicine seniors received their M.D. degrees Friday, marking their legacy as the second class of UCF-trained physicians to go out and care for the world.

In his remarks, UCF President John C. Hitt talked about the risks the Class of 2014 had taken. They enrolled in a brand new medical school that was not yet fully accredited, and unlike the charter class, they didn’t have full scholarships to help negate the risk. “You chose this medical school before its campus was finished. You came to this medical school when it was not accredited. And you arrived at this medical school without full scholarships,” Hitt said. “You took a big chance on UCF – and your leap of faith has paid off.”

The graduates now enter residency programs across Orlando, Florida and the nation. One-hundred percent of this year’s graduates matched into residencies in specialties ranging from pediatrics to internal medicine, dermatology to surgery. As they prepare for their graduate medical training, student graduation speaker Omar Shakeel reminded his colleagues, “Remember that sometimes the smallest of things we will do in our career may take up the most room in someone’s heart. Never give up on making a difference.”

The day had multiple special occasions.

  •  Minutes after receiving her diploma, graduate Casey deDeugd replaced her robe with her military uniform and returned to the stage, where she was promoted to United States Air Force Captain. She was sworn in by associate professor Dr. Jose Borrero, himself an Air Force veteran, who will retire from teaching in two weeks. As deDeugd left the stage, she received a standing salute from junior College of Medicine military student officers. “It means so much,” she said of the military honor incorporated into commencement. “When I came down the steps and saw them saluting, it was the first time I teared up at graduation. I was so proud.”
  •  Dr. Charles Reilly, assistant to the provost, served in the provost’s role during the College of Medicine graduation and hooded his son, Chris, who graduated with honors Friday. The two shared an emotional embrace on the stage before the younger Reilly received his diploma from Dr. Deborah German, vice president for medical affairs and dean. “It’s difficult to find the words to describe having Dad up there with me,” said Chris, who graduated with honors from UCF’s Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences before entering medical school. Added his tearful father, “I can’t talk…It’s just a great day.”
  • Because some of the graduates have physician family members, Dr. German invited all doctors in attendance to stand and retake the Hippocratic Oath with UCF’s newest doctors. About a dozen relatives did. The oath, named after the Greek physician Hippocrates, considered the father of western medicine, promises to treat patients with care and to do no harm. Students selected faculty member Dr. Sergio Salazar for the honor of administering the oath.

Mentioned often during graduation was The Good Doctor, a UCF tradition that begins with each class’ White Coat ceremony, where first-year students are recognized as colleagues in patient care. During White Coat, Dr. German asks students to name the characteristics they want to see in a doctor caring for their most beloved person. She writes the traits on a blackboard, which stays on display at the medical school throughout the class’ first year. “Have you become The Good Doctor?” Dr. German asked during graduation. “Does that question make you feel uncomfortable? I think the reason you feel this way is because you now know that becoming The Good Doctor is a lifelong endeavor.”

Medical school graduation, at the Venue on the main UCF campus, even had its own selfie moment. Faculty speaker Dr. James Sanders, an assistant professor and neurosurgeon, began his remarks by taking a selfie on stage, drawing laughter from the crowd. He urged graduates to do the same as a record of their special day. “It is a privilege to be a physician and have the opportunity to care for others,” he said. “You will have days that test your metal and passions to practice medicine. It will be on those days that I ask you to remember today, the day you had the suffix, M.D., added to your name.”

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