Medical Graduates Charged With Creating a “Caring Culture”

May 23, 2016--The graduating class of Georgetown University School of Medicine received their diplomas on Sunday, and with them, the awesome responsibility that comes with being a physician.

The commencement ceremony was held at DAR Constitution Hall in downtown Washington, DC, where Kelley M. Skeff, MD, PhD, received the honoris causa, or honorary doctor of science degree. Skeff, who is the George DeForest Barnett professor of medicine at Stanford School of Medicine, delivered the commencement address.


A video of the entire commencement ceremony is available here

A Commitment to Caring

Edward B. Healton, MD, MPH, vice president for health sciences at GUMC and executive dean of the medical school, praised Skeff for his “highly regarded and far-reaching approach of educating the educator.” Skeff is the co-director of the Stanford Faculty Development Center for Medical Teachers, which works to improve medical education nationally and internationally.

“The field of medicine has never had a greater need for people like you,” Skeff told the graduates. “Our field needs an infusion of ethics.”

Skeff cited medicine’s increased focus on business, big data and competition among physicians as trends that can distract from a doctor’s true calling.

“Our field requires a new commitment to caring. As medicine has become more oriented to business, conduct may be more designed to get five stars than to remain true to the value of our profession.  We work hard to enter data into the computer, data admittedly useful to the care of the patient, but through a process that may be taking us away from the patient.”

Skeff pointed out that Georgetown graduates are uniquely qualified to address these challenges, as their medical education is rooted in cura personalis, or care of the whole person.

“When the system doesn’t enable us to assist the patient, we must bring out a Georgetown reflection of ethics and caring. Georgetown graduates have a special set of timeless values that must now be applied at a time when those values are in question.”

Presenting the Class of 2016

Stephen Ray Mitchell, MD, MBA, dean for medical education, led the graduates in the presentation of the degrees. He noted that of 192 graduating students, there were 99 women and 93 men.

The graduates then crossed the stage, met by cheers of friends and family, to receive the coveted degree that represents four years of hard work. Georgetown President John J. DeGioia, PhD, conferred doctor of medicine degrees to all, along with a doctor of philosophy degree awarded to a MD/PhD graduate, and a master of business administration to a MD/MBA student.

The ceremony concluded with the class of 2016’s recitation of the Hippocratic Oath, led by Donald Knowlan, MD, professor emeritus of medicine.

Leigh Ann Renzulli
GUMC Communications