The Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine graduated its first class on Monday, sending 30 pioneering students off to post-graduate residencies at North Shore, Duke University Medical Center, Yale-New Haven Hospital, the University of Southern California and Memorial Sloan-Kettering.
They will work in a variety of specialty areas, ranging from internal medicine and pediatrics to emergency medicine, orthopedic surgery and psychiatry.
Established in 2008, the School of Medicine is the first allopathic medical school to open in New York State in more than 40 years. The institution has 2,200 faculty and approximately 280 students, a roster that is expected to grow to 400 by 2016.
The school’s innovative curriculum combines basic science with clinical experience from the first day of a student’s training, focusing on patient interaction, interdisciplinary teamwork and community service. Among the innovations: all first-year medical students are trained as emergency medical technicians and ride with North Shore-LIJ Health System ambulance crews.
“This is an historic day,” said Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz. “Four years ago, this gifted group of young men and women began a ground-breaking journey at a new medical school with a unique curriculum that challenges convention. Today, they graduate not just as doctors, but as innovators and leaders who will transform their profession for decades to come.”
The graduation of the charter class is one of several milestones for the school, including opening a $36 million state-of-the-art facility, earning full accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, and participation in its first Match Day, which saw 100 percent of the graduating class placed in residencies at some of the most prestigious institutions in the nation.
“Every graduating class is special, but a medical school’s charter class is truly distinctive,” said Lawrence G. Smith, the school’s founding dean. “These students are confident self-starters whose participation helped us to shape and refine the (school’s) cutting-edge curriculum.”
The school is correct in referring to its graduates as pioneers, as some graduates noted.
“I think we all realized the potential risks and benefits of being at a new medical school, and some of us were more apprehensive than others,” said Daniel Ohngemach, a member of the charter class who will train for a year in internal medicine before beginning a residency in radiology at North Shore-LIJ. “But I knew that if I stayed true to myself, I would graduate a well-trained physician.”
AJ Blood, a fellow graduate and past president of student government, agreed.
“I looked at the track record of these institutions and the leadership brought in to begin the School of Medicine, and I saw an amazing opportunity,” said Blood, who is heading to Duke University to train in internal medicine. “I knew that far from a risk, I was being offered a chance to get in at the ground floor of the ‘Google’ of medical schools.”
The commencement ceremony also included the bestowing of the Branson Sparks Humanism Award. Sparks completed his first year with the charter class before dying of T-cell lymphoma in 2013.