By Wendy Sarubbi | August 6, 2018 4:49 pm


Darin Griner came to UCF for his medical training after a Naval career where he kept U.S. nuclear submarines and their crews safe beneath the ocean.

Julia Nedimyer stayed at her alma mater for med school after working with her father to save coral reefs in the Caribbean and South America.

Matthew Abrams, a Fulbright Scholar, came to the UCF College of Medicine with dreams of becoming a psychiatrist who can help people like his mother, who died of alcoholism when Matthew was just 11.

The three were among 120 students who received their white coats Monday in a tradition that welcomes them as colleagues in healthcare. As Dr. Deborah German, vice president for health affairs and dean, finished the 2018 White Coat Ceremony, the crowd of almost 700 gave the Class of 2022 a standing ovation. Standing and applauding in the Pegasus Ballroom’s front row was UCF President Dale Whittaker, who opened the ceremony for the first time as the university’s chief executive.

“You are now part of a College of Medicine that will be a model for 21st-century medical education,” President Whittaker said, “pioneering how to help people live better and teaching you to practice medicine not just for today but for tomorrow.”

He told the new M.D. students there had “never been a better time to join UCF and our College of Medicine,” noting that this summer UCF created an Academic Health Sciences Center bringing together the university’s health-related programs  to create new opportunities for interdisciplinary education, research and patient care. Part of that reorganization, President Whittaker said, is a new College of Health Professions and Sciences (CHPS) and the university’s hope to expand the College of Nursing in a new facility in Lake Nona adjacent to the medical school.

Nedimyer said the opportunity to collaborate with fellow students in nursing, social work, physical therapy and other UCF health programs was one of the things that excited her about staying at UCF for medical school after receiving her undergraduate degree in health sciences here. She also was inspired by College of Medicine faculty members Drs. Jonathan Kibble and David Harris, who taught her advanced physiology course. “I love their teaching style,” she said, “and how they communicated with students. They didn’t talk down to you, they engaged you.”

The day was filled with talk of dreams. President Whittaker reminded students that as the UCF motto states, “We reach for the stars.” Griner said he was inspired by seeing the future of the College of Medicine, noting “Dr. German’s dream is infectious.”

Students said they were struck by UCF’s transparency in admissions, its welcoming culture and its commitment to helping students achieve their dreams.  The Class of 2022 was selected from a record 5,265 applicants. In comparison, the Charter Class of 2013 whose 41 students received full four-year scholarships, had 4,307 applications.

This year’s first-year class had an average MCAT score of 512 and an average grade point average of 3.79. Students speak 24 languages in addition to English and did their undergraduate work at Duke, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Notre Dame, UCF, University of Florida and Vanderbilt. Two are candidates in the M.D./Ph.D. program bring that program to a full cohort of students training to be physician scientists. Ninety of the 120 did scientific research before entering medical school on topics that included drug addiction, algae biofuels and metastatic cancer.

As is a UCF College of Medicine tradition, Monday’s White Coat Ceremony included the students’ first class, called “The Good Doctor.” Dr. German asked each new student to imagine the person they love most in the world is seriously ill with a disease doctors can’t diagnose. She asked them to imagine being at the clinic with their beloved person, waiting to see another physician. “What qualities do you hope this physician will have?” she asked.

Students suggested characteristics that Dr. German wrote on a blackboard that will remain on display the entire year. This year’s list of 41 traits included courageous, honest, compassionate, humble, culturally aware, perseverant, inquisitive and charitable.

“This is your contract with me, your faculty, friends, family, community and each other,” Dr. German said, pointing to the words. “With the guidance of the faculty and your own hard work, you will become The Good Doctor.”



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