At the 2010 White Coat Ceremony, Dean Jerry Strauss helped incoming students into their first white coats.
Some people say it’s like drinking from a fire hose. And it’s true. Over the next four years, our first-year medical students must absorb an enormous amount of material about the human body and human disease.
But I say that’s not the real challenge. The true test is learning how to turn all that knowledge into wisdom. Wisdom that will equip them to provide compassionate and skilled care for their future patients.
When I welcomed this year’s incoming students to campus, I reminded them that they are well prepared for this challenge. After all, 6,350 applicants were competing for the 200 seats available in the Class of 2014. This is a highly select group, chosen not just for their test scores, but also for a demonstrated passion for the health care field.
Now that they are here, they will take advantage of an exceptional learning environment. The past five years have brought important changes to the VCU Medical Center, with more than three-quarters of a billion dollars of investment in new and planned facilities, people and programs.
Our new students will first benefit from the renovations to the Gross Anatomy Lab and to the Larrick and Hunton Student Centers. Soon they will also see patients in the Critical Care Hospital — a facility that is visited on a monthly basis by leaders from other medical centers who want to duplicate its innovations. The Goodwin Research Labs, the Molecular Medicine Research Building and renovations to research space in Sanger Hall will give students with an interest in biomedical research an outstanding arena for their studies.
The Richmond community itself will become a place for learning as they find ways to serve its citizens through health screenings, free clinics and even K-12 tutoring.
Those experiences together create an environment for education, healing and discovery. An environment that transforms knowledge into wisdom.