School of Medicine Commencement Ceremony Honors ‘An Incredible Group of Graduates’

Two women in cap and gown clap in celebration
The 184 members of the Georgetown University School of Medicine Class of 2019 received their diplomas at their commencement ceremony May 16 at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.

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(May 20, 2019) — In front of their friends, families, faculty and staff, the Georgetown University School of Medicine Class of 2019 received their diplomas May 19 at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Mitchell speaks at a podium
Stephen Ray Mitchell, MD, MBA, praised the Class of 2019 for promoting health justice in Washington, D.C., and around the world during their time at the School of Medicine.

“Honored guests, graduating seniors, parents, spouses and friends, welcome to the graduation of Georgetown University and the 167th commencement of the School of Medicine,” said Edward B. Healton, MD, MPH, executive vice president for health sciences and executive dean of the School of Medicine. “This very special day has finally arrived.”

Coming from 31 states and the District of Columbia, the 184 graduates included 98 women and 86 men, ranging in age from 24 to 42, said Stephen Ray Mitchell, MD, MBA, dean of medical education at the School of Medicine.

“Forty-seven percent will attend residency at top 25 percent schools and nearly 16 percent will attend the top 10 programs in the nation,” Mitchell said. “They will attend those programs in Boston, New York, New Haven, Baltimore, Durham and Palo Alto among others.

“It’s an incredible group of graduates of which we can all be proud,” he added.

Practice Gratitude and Take the Path Less Traveled

Susan Thompson Hingle, MD, associate dean for the Center for Human and Organizational Potential at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine and former chief resident at Georgetown University Hospital, spoke to the Class of 2019 about how to use their influence as medical professionals to make a difference while pursuing rewarding careers.

Dr. Hingle is flanked by Dr. MItchell and  President DeGioia
Susan Thompson Hingle, MD, was awarded an honorary doctor of science degree, honoris causa, before giving her commencement speech.

To start, she implored students to find a way to practice gratitude, whether by identifying three things that went well every day, praying, using an app or writing in a journal.

“If you intentionally make practicing gratitude a part of your everyday practice, you will recognize that it is truly a privilege, not afforded to many, to be able to care for our fellow human beings,” Hingle said. “Gratitude will connect you to the meaning in medicine and the ordinary miracles happening around you every single day.”

Hingle also encouraged students to take the path less traveled, something she said has helped her become more patient, resilient, compassionate and open-minded.

“The many challenges I have faced in my life and the many, many, many, many failures have made me who I am,” she said. “And who I have become is a far better person than I could have ever imagined or dreamed. And I want that for each and every one of you too.”

A Call to Advocate for Patients and Colleagues

As students dedicate their lives to their patients, it’s imperative for them to contribute to advocacy efforts, Hingle said, pushing them to challenge the status quo around issues including gun violence, health disparities, unfair treatment faced by women and underrepresented physicians, and compensation differences between primary care physicians and specialists.

Susan Hingle speaks into a microphone
Hingle challenged graduates to use their influence as doctors to promote change in their communities.

“Physicians remain one of the most respected professions in our country,” she said. “As such, you have great power. I call on you to use that power to influence change — change for your patients, change for your communities, change for your colleagues, change for your profession.”

Citing high rates of depression in residents and increased rates of suicide among physicians compared to the general population, Hingle also urged students to take care of themselves and each other.

“There is a perverse culture in medicine where it is a badge of honor to be sleep deprived and to work exhausted and to work when you’re sick,” she said. “But remember, self-care is essential. You must take care of yourself. Otherwise you are no good to others. We must, together, work to change the culture so that we reward self-care.

“It’s truly an incredible honor and privilege to be sharing this special day with you when you officially become physicians,” Hingle added. “You have incredible opportunity in front of you. Be true to yourself. Be bold in shaping your future and making a difference.”

‘Bend That Arc to Justice, Young Hoyas’

Referring to the writing of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver, John J. DeGioia, Georgetown University president, said, “Our careful attention, our engagement with the world around us is deepened immeasurably when we engage with empathy and openness.

John J. DeGioia speaks at a podium
“Today we recognize and celebrate you for your hard work, your service, your deep commitment to the field of medicine,” said Georgetown University president John J. DeGioia.

“This work embodies one of the most profound ideas that animates our tradition of learning,” DeGioia said. “This idea comes to us from St. Ignatius of Loyola himself, the founder of the Jesuits. It’s the idea that we must always begin by presupposing the very best in one another, that when we seek to bring out the best in one another, we’re able to find the very best in ourselves.”

In his benediction, Mitchell reminded the graduates that they have the ability to promote a more just world.

“As they look forward today, the arc of the moral universe is long and it seems characterized by war, hatred, injustice and poor men crouched down in despair,” Mitchell said. “Bend that arc to justice, young Hoyas. This world needs you, especially you, now more than ever.”

Watch the 2019 Georgetown University School of Medicine commencement ceremony on Facebook.

Kat Zambon
GUMC Communications

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