Aug 16 2011
Good morning. It’s a pleasure to join you here today. Welcome to New York Institute of Technology, to a new academic year, and to medical school. Congratulations. You got into this medical school. More than 20 applicants competed for your seat, and we chose you.
Your classes are about to begin, and this orientation is traditionally the opening act of NYIT’s academic year. It’s an exciting time for all of us.
You – the 301 members of the Class of 2015 – are an academically gifted group. Your MCATs and GPAs are outstanding; whether they are the highest or lowest in your class, we firmly believe you have the ability to succeed. If you are curious about the lowest and highest scores, the average GPA is 3.65 and the range is from 3.3 to 3.99. The average MCAT is 28 and ranges from 24 to 41.
Our Pulitzer Prize-winning PR Director, who did his undergraduate work at Brown University, suggested I mention that the high-score student also graduated from Brown. Small world – I graduated from Brown. But that was four years of my life, and I am beginning my 37th at NYIT and my 12th as president. Of course, that is longer than most of you are old. Your youngest classmate is age 20 and the oldest 55.
In any case, you all are qualified and your future is bright, provided you work hard. And you will. Make sure you warn your friends and relatives who expect free medical advice for the rest of their lives that there’s a price to pay for it…now.
You’re a remarkably diverse group, as diverse as the patients you will help. Your class is about split with 51 percent men and 49 percent women. Diversity by all measure – geographical, ethnic, gender – has become synonymous with NYIT and it’s integral to our success. I’m proud to say that no other institution in the area has the global reach reflected here today. Among us sit students from as nearby as Rhode Island and New Jersey and from as far away as Egypt, Kenya, and Vietnam.
Let me tell you a little bit about New York Institute of Technology, of which NYCOM is one of our seven academic schools. The others are: Architecture and Design; Arts and Sciences; Education; Engineering and Computing Sciences; Management; and Health Professions—where 20 of you attended as part of our B.S./D.O. program.
From each of our schools—more than 90 programs —NYIT graduates professionals who are capable of taking on 21st-century challenges. We are highly ranked and accredited; we only accept qualified students we believe can succeed in their chosen fields; we revere teaching and embrace technology to improve the learning; we pursue research for the betterment of society; we provide students value in the evolving global landscape where education and hard work are the rungs toward personal and societal success. We even like to have FUN. So take in a Bears game or a campus event…when you have some “spare” time.
This is your NYIT: 14,000 students at campuses around the world, and about 89,000 graduates, including the “Hero Doctor” who graced the cover of Newsweek a few years back for his bravery and lifesaving skills during the Iraq War. Your ID card works wherever the NYIT flag flies, certainly in our Manhattan campus at Columbus Circle but also at our sites and campuses in China, the Middle East, and Canada.
At NYIT today, we are at the forefront of globalization in higher education, and that includes having students from 106 nations and all 50 states of the U.S. We understand the view that living and working effectively in today’s global society requires learning with a transcultural perspective. Our Center for Global Health offers fellowship opportunities and hosts visiting professors from around the world. Along the way, it advances the development of medical and educational programs that will help bridge the divide among peoples and cultures.
Many, many students who sat in these seats just a few years ago have wonderful stories to tell about life-changing experiences in Ghana to conduct research and deliver health care as part of a certificate in global health. Others can share information about their research in Belize and Haiti. We hope you will consider future global healing voyages of your own. Because we pride ourselves on our interdisciplinary approach to challenges, don’t be surprised if your traveling companions are architects and engineers in training from our other schools. So get your passport, if you don’t already have one, and use it. After all, this is 2011 – smack in the global era – not a more provincial last century.
I used my passport yesterday when I returned from three days in Shenzhen, China, where I was the invited United States delegate at the World University President’s forum and gave a keynote address. There were nearly 200 presidents there from 80 nations, including the president of the Royal College of Surgeons in the U.K. and the local president of Shenzhen University, which is about to open a medical school. And there was the president of the University of Dublin, who is a physician, a cardiologist, and dozens of presidents like me who oversee medical schools at their university.
I led off the widely reported event and dialog speaking in part about how the major issues of our century – from water, environmental sustainability, education, health care, and beyond cannot be solved locally, only glocally. That is, thinking globally and acting locally…and acting in collaborative and interdisciplinary ways. Pandemics are not local. Most diseases and treatments and healthcare concerns are shared by citizens throughout the world. And most solutions involve or will involve the collective and collaborative work involving government, universities, and business.
It’s important for you to understand that NYIT is an institution that values medicine as part of its overall vision. In our 2030 strategic plan, we note that our medical school is central to the university’s interdisciplinary and career-oriented professional mission. And we are proud to note that we have graduated more than 5,600 physicians. More than 1,300 are practicing here on Long Island alone.
We’re a little different than other medical schools and certainly, we try to be better than many. We strive to live up to the “T” in our last name. Adapting to technology, incorporating the latest scientific research, and interpreting the needs of future generations of patients – all are crucial to a 21st-century medical education.
We take that responsibility very seriously. Every year, we incorporate innovative technology, including video-streaming of lectures, multimedia-enriched coursework, robotic-simulated patients, and handheld electronic medical records. One of the newest members of NYCOM, in fact, is “iStan.” This robotic simulator is state-of-the-art. I’m told he’s new and improved…with stronger skin. Best of all, he fits in perfectly at NYIT because…he’s wireless.
You know about America’s impending shortage of physicians. That’s where you come in – you are the “human capital,” the precious resource in a world greatly in need of such resources.
The AMA believes there may be a shortage of at least 125,000 physicians by 2025, especially in areas outside of cities and high-population centers. And when the full provisions of health care reform start, there may be 32 million more patients – these are the people who haven’t been insured or who have been without a physician. HHS has estimated that in the next decade, about one-third of today’s practicing physicians will retire. So…for our aging population, the need for medical providers is great. You will fill the void created by retiring physicians, and I’m personally counting on you when my own doctor moves to Florida. Fittingly, the work of another NYIT interdisciplinary graduate center – the NYIT Center for Geriatrics and Gerontology -- directly addresses the medical, living, and financial needs of the aging population.
I would like to offer one last piece of advice: Hold on to the enthusiasm and idealism that made you want to become a physician. Passion for what you do, I have found, is a key to a rich and rewarding life. And by making a lifelong commitment to learning and critical thinking, you will keep the fervor that brought you to study here at NYIT in the first place.
One more thing: if you see me around – and you will see me around the medical school a lot this year—say hello. And finally: enjoy this adventure. Good luck!