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Northeast Ohio Medical University Presents 231 New Medical Professionals During Commencement

Appreciating every step taken to improve wellness is overarching theme

On May 18, 2019, Northeast Ohio Medical University conferred 231 degrees upon Ohio’s newest Doctors of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.), Doctors of Medicine (M.D.), and other health professionals ― health-system pharmacy administration, integrated pharmaceutical medicine and public health. NEOMED also celebrated the first graduates of its master’s degree program in medical ethics and humanities. The commencement, which took place at E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Hall in Akron, was the University’s 39th.

The mission-driven medical university used the ceremonies to do more than just congratulate students and offer words of wisdom: speakers reminded the packed auditorium of the importance of appreciating the small steps of success as a component of whole-person wellness for health professionals.

As students, the graduates reported more than 2,000 volunteer hours. Many of them also volunteered at the University’s SOAR Student-run Free Clinic which has a 98 percent satisfaction rate ― patients who said they would recommend it to others.

The graduates were also among the best in the nation on licensure exams in pharmacy and medicine.

“While a single successful event, outcome or accomplishment does not define your whole career, we also don’t want you to be too critical of yourself when things don’t turn out as you hoped,” said Jay A. Gershen, D.D.S., Ph.D., president of NEOMED. In his 10th and final commencement as president, Dr. Gershen told the students how much he appreciated what they’ve already accomplished, providing patient-centered and team-based care as volunteers and being at the forefront of advocacy, medical education and research.

Such accomplishments are the kinds for which keynote speaker Susan Dentzer says that students should feel a “contented dazzlement of surprise” ― a reference from the book, The Lives of a Cell, written by Lewis Thomas.

“Sometimes we become dejected or depressed as we experience failures of whatever sort,” said Dentzer, a current visiting fellow at the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy and the former president and CEO of the Network for Excellence in Health Innovation. “And as you go through your careers, you may be tempted to lapse into cynicism – about the health care system, about the roadblocks in the way of your own careers, or something else.”

“Don’t ever forget how special you are, but also how many obligations go along with being so special and important.  Make the most of your obligations to yourselves and to the service of your fellow human beings,” added Dentzer.

During the commencement, which was celebrated on the same day as Armed Forces Day, NEOMED celebrated all current and former members of the military. The University also recognized nine graduates, who plan to use their medical education immediately in the military.

Commencement ceremonies included the presentation of an honorary degree to Richard Lewis, NEOMED’s recently retired vice president for external affairs and secretary to the Board of Trustees. The steps he has taken during his 45-year career includes contributions to higher education, state and local government relations, capital budgets, medical and health care education, research, health services legislation and community service.

NEOMED’s Class of 2019 comprises 154 College of Medicine graduates ― who will move on to residencies in some of the best hospitals in the nation; 66 College of Pharmacy graduates ― most will go directly into practice but 19 of them have chosen to be pharmacists in residencies first; and 11 other health professionals whose graduate studies will help them advance drug development, health-system management, public health, professionalism and ethics in practice.

For more than 40 years, Northeast Ohio Medical University (NEOMED) has worked in collaboration with its educational, clinical and research partners to successfully train health professionals and medical researchers who serve and impact the region and beyond. The University trains students in a team-based, interprofessional environment and offers Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) and Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degrees, in addition to master’s and doctoral degrees and research opportunities in other medical areas.