“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better person.” –Benjamin Franklin
I hope that you and your families enjoyed the holidays and that you were not unduly disrupted by the exceptionally inclement weather that has brought us into 2018.
As I mentioned in my pre-holiday note, we have much to be pleased about from 2017 and to be grateful for. As we begin 2018, it is noteworthy that for the first time ever, the number of women enrolling in U.S. medical schools has exceeded the number of men in 2017, with females accounting for 50.7% of matriculants. We should truly celebrate how diverse we have become, not just in gender, but importantly also in race, creed, sexual orientation and ever-more-important in the greater representation of the diversity of our opinions. Diversity without inclusion is a missed opportunity and represents a flawed environment. To that end, we must strive in 2018 for a more diverse and inclusive environment. As 2017 drew to a close, I was heartened by a compelling NYT article by Tom Brokaw, celebrating how diverse and inclusive our healthcare and training environment really is. You can read this powerful article online.
I also read a not-so-flattering article about sexual harassment and intolerance in higher education. You can read this disturbing article online.
On reflection, 2017 was noteworthy for much social turmoil, intolerance of differences, and, more accordingly, for the acknowledgement and disavowment of sexual harassment. As we begin 2018, we must affirm our commitment to respect, to human dignity, and to intolerance of any forms of discrimination and/or harassment. Our work in academic medicine is noble and it is vital. We have much to accomplish in 2018, including that we ensure respect for each other, our patients, and our community.
It is a time of great promise for our medical school. In 2018, new trainees will come here. Also, our graduates of the class of 2018 will go forth to give great care all across America. New faculty will also join us to advance our research, aid in our discoveries, train our students and residents and alongside us they will care for our patients. You will help bring new babies into the world, you will save lives, and you will cure some patients’ cancer. Collectively, we will practice quality and safe medicine with a degree of team cohesion and skills that are truly awesome. Our great faculty will undoubtedly receive many national accolades for their/your work. (P.S. we know that already – we are embargoed from mentioning several wonderful recognitions that are “in the works for 2018” – more to follow!) The promise of your work will also bring new competitive grants and new philanthropic donations to advance all our missions. And we will do just that… and we will be an even better school in 2018.
I thank each and every one of you for your commitment to our school in 2018 and I also thank you for your commitment to be exemplary role models for all of us. I pledge the same to you.
Finally, I would be remiss if I did not remind us all of a simple, yet glorious historical fact: Our medical school, the founding school of VCU, celebrates 180 years in 2018!
What a great legacy and what a compelling future.
Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System