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Tradition and progress mark the start of a new academic year

Posted by on Thursday, September 13, 2018 in From the Dean, Summer 2018 .

Photo by Anne Rayner

Summer marked the beginning of another exciting academic year when we welcomed a host of students and advanced postdoctoral trainees to the Medical Center. It is a time of renewal, optimism and excitement for the future.

In July we introduced 96 medical students during the annual Convocation and White Coat Ceremony. Our residency and fellowship training programs welcomed 331 new house staff. More than 400 nursing students were welcomed to the Nursing School by Dean Linda Norman in August. In September 112 new PhD students were welcomed by Basic Sciences Dean Larry Marnett during this year’s Simple Beginnings Ceremony.

These individuals join us with amazing academic credentials, an impressive array of talents, and histories of altruistic service to others.

Our medical students were selected from a pool of more than 5,700 applicants from 34 states, eight foreign countries and 54 undergraduate schools. Among this year’s class, 60 percent participated in at least one transition year before starting medical school, gathering valuable experiences as diverse as performing research at the National Institutes of Health, working for a major health care information technology company and volunteering at senior care facilities, among other activities.

Our residents and clinical fellows entered more than 90 ACGME accredited training programs across all our clinical departments and several other training programs at VUMC. They come to us from more than 100 U.S. schools of medicine and 27 international medical schools.

Members of the class joining the School of Nursing are from 38 states and two foreign countries, bringing VUSN’s current student body to just over 800. This year’s PhD students come from eight countries, 35 states and two territories. The largest group — 57 students — is entering graduate school through the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program, allowing each to choose among 11 outstanding disciplines after an initial year of immersion.

And our dual-degree programs continue to flourish and grow, with 14 new students pursuing MD/PhD degrees and four enrolled in the Medical Innovators Development Program (MIDP), a new four-year PhD-to-MD curriculum tailored to engineers and applied scientists.

Reflecting our strategic direction, making diversity and inclusion intentional, 20 percent of our medical students belong to groups that are underrepresented in medicine and health care. The highest number and percentage of underrepresented minorities in our school’s history entered our residency programs in July. It is our goal to train and nurture these talented individuals in an atmosphere of respect and engagement for everyone, and we hope many will eventually join us as faculty and staff, leading us in the future.

Arriving students were welcomed to the newly renovated Annette and Irwin Eskind Family Biomedical Library and Learning Center, which opened after an extensive, yearlong renovation with infrastructure improvements and technological updates to match the ongoing evolution of medical education.

Supported by a visionary gift from the Eskind family to Vanderbilt University in honor of Dr. Irwin Eskind, a 1945 graduate of the University and 1948 graduate of the School of Medicine, the renovation includes improvements to the overall library services spaces on the ground floor, serving all faculty, students, and trainees, as well as providing modernized educational program and administrative space for medical students on the upper floors. This renovation is designed to complement how learning takes place under our innovative medical student curriculum, and students are enjoying this engaging and adaptable space.

We are grateful to the Eskind family for their legacy of generosity to Vanderbilt to passionately support training for future generations of physicians and scientists. There is an article with more information about this transformative new space on page 8 of this issue.

The Medical Center is once again alive with students, eager to embrace our rich traditions and progressive environment, working in tandem to provide a unique and treasured academic experience.

Jeff Balser, MD, PhD
President and CEO, Vanderbilt University Medical Center
Dean, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine