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EVMS commencement 2012

Story Date: Tue, 22 May 2012 09:53:00 EDT

Doctors Without Borders US Board President Matthew C. Spitzer, MD, reveled in the community-oriented environment and mission of EVMS as he spoke to graduates May 19 at the Norfolk Scope.

"Since I arrived yesterday, I have felt like I am almost among comrades -- allies in a certain struggle [that we share]," Dr. Spitzer, guest lecturer for the event, said to the 296 gradutes and thousands of family and friends.

Dr. Spitzer encouraged the students to adopt the tenets of the founders of Doctors Without Borders: to combine concrete medical action with individual conscience. He spelled out the three concepts that help guide volunteers during community-oriented work -- bearing witness, refusing to accept unacceptable situations involving patients, and the drive for innovation -- illustrating each with a story from his own travels and work around the world to assist the less fortunate.

"Humanitarian medicine, or community-oriented health care, is not something we should think of as charity care or where something is better than nothing," he cautioned. "Instead, it should seek the highest standards and the best care possible, whether very far away in a developing country or next door . . ."

Commencement-related ceremonies began with what has quickly become a new EVMS tradition: the White Coat Retirement Ceremony. Medical students and friends returned to Windhaven Farm in Windsor to retire their short white coats in preparation for wearing the long white coats reserved for physicians.

The festivities included the annual military commissioning ceremony aboard the USS Wisconsin in downtown Norfolk. There were also a series of banquets and receptions to honor graduates, including a new ceremony this year to induct students and faculty into the Gold Humanism Honor Society.