Pep Talk – June 2015

With another school year completed and each class progressing, I’ve had a chance to reflect on our students’ accomplishments of the past few months – and to be incredibly grateful for the efforts of our faculty in turning these young people into tomorrow’s health leaders.

Whether in their match results, research findings, community service or national board scores, our students are thriving – and showing how much can be accomplished when we work together. As teachers in your clinical practices, hospitals and labs, you have helped our students foster a spirit of inquiry and service to others. Thank you so much.

The College of Medicine’s Class of 2015 graduated on May 15, the third class of UCF trained physicians. This year’s class included eight military officers – the most to date – who are participating in the Health Professions Scholarships program. They are members of the U.S. Army, Air Force and Navy. Seven will do their residencies at military hospitals; the eighth will complete his military service after a civilian residency. The students took their military oaths in full dress uniform just moments after receiving their M.D. diplomas. The commencement crowd of almost 1,000 people gave them a standing ovation

These new graduates are now on their way to residency training – across our community, state and nation. Eight will do their training at Orlando Health, three at Florida Hospital. Another eight will do residencies across the state at locations including University of South Florida, UF and All Children’s Hospital. Nationally, three are going to Harvard, one to Stanford, one to Emory and one to the Mayo Clinic. Their choice of specialties reflects a diverse love of subjects that you, their teachers, have shared: family medicine, anesthesiology, neurosurgery, pediatrics, obstetrics-gynecology, urology.

We know from their residency interviews that our students’ experience with research and scientific discovery made a positive impression on many residency directors. Thanks to all of you who served as mentors in the Focused Inquiry and Research Experience (FIRE) module. This year, for the first time, several of you had multiple FIRE mentees. Through your guidance, our students were able to make scientific discoveries and presentations on topics ranging from brain cancer to strokes, rheumatoid arthritis to medical education. Their research has had regional and national impact.

Just as the FIRE module makes our medical school curriculum unique, so does the integrated curriculum that ties basic and clinical science from the first weeks of medical school. That approach has been successful as our students score above most other medical schools in the country on their Step 1 and Step 2 USMLE exams. The latest results are coming in from the Class of 2017 and they are excellent. So far, we have results for 112 of our students who took Step 1. We have a 100 percent pass rate and their mean score is 239. Last year’s national average was 229. These students began their third-year clerkships on May 19 and in addition to all of the sites where students have trained in previous years, we now have students going to Heart of Florida Hospital in Davenport and Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine. Many thanks to those newly appointed affiliated faculty who are involved in these educational programs.

Our UCF curriculum has some great additions. The Anatomy Lab has a new computerized Anatomage table that displays a high-definition virtual cadaver that can show every anatomical system from a full body to individual nerves and allows students to make virtual “cuts” to dissect anatomy from every angle. We’re also focusing on interprofessional education, training UCF medical and social work students and UF pharmacy students together to develop their teamwork skills for the real world. A recent session had all three disciplines caring for a standardized patient in the Clinical Skills and Training Center. The patient (actor) had worsening asthma, was recently widowed and trying to raise a teenage son alone in a trailer that had just flooded. Working together, the social work, medical and pharmacy students learned what was causing his worsening symptoms and solutions for his difficulties. Our goal is to help students in diverse healthcare programs develop team “muscle memory” that they can take with them as they care for patients in the future.

Our successes require all of your individual efforts. I am pleased to report that five affiliated/volunteer faculty are being promoted next month. They are: Dr. Sarfraz Ahmad as Professor of Internal Medicine; Dr. D. Ashley Hill, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology; Dr. Jay Redan, Professor of Surgery; Dr. Saad Shaikh, Professor of Ophthalmology; and Dr. Lloyd Werk, Associate Professor of Pediatrics. Congratulations to each on this recognition. Promotion criteria and procedures for affiliated and volunteer faculty can be found at: Information needs to be in the Office of Faculty and Academic Affairs by the beginning of July for recommendations to be reviewed by the College Non-Tenure Track Promotion Committee and then submitted to the Dean. Recently, the Faculty Council led a process spearheaded by Dr. Jane Gibson whereby affiliated/volunteer faculty can be nominated to be appointed as non-salaried core faculty. Some faculty will also be recognized with tenure of title if they fulfill the criteria of core, tenured faculty.

During his graduation remarks to our Class of 2015, UCF President John C. Hitt exclaimed, “What a great day to be a KNIGHT.” Every day is that for me because of your efforts with the educational program that allows our students to succeed and the college to prosper. Thanks again and have a cool summer.

  Pep Talk – June 2015


UCF College of Medicine