Good morning and congratulations again, doctors! Sounds nice, doesn’t it?
It is an honor for my colleagues and me to see you graduate, and for that I thank you.
Yesterday, I mentioned how prepared you are to face the challenges outside the academy. I also glibly remarked how you lucked out because the world has never been so challenging. A national health care debate certainly resonated throughout your medical school years, and the new federal health care law recently passed by Congress has raised the stakes for hospitals and schools already scrambling to train more doctors, as there will now be millions of people newly insured under the law. And then there are more people than ever, millions more – including perhaps a few on this very stage – reaching their golden years and especially in need of your miracles.
Of course in our increasingly flat, connected, and sometimes pandemic world, it is difficult to turn a blind eye on the health care field abroad where the vast majority of people lack even the most basic care, as evidenced by the earthquakes in Haiti and other natural disasters in the past year. Doctors are needed to immunize children, to treat viruses, and to fight to forestall more deadly epidemics that are sure to arise.
So, it is comforting to recognize there are more than 250 new physicians in this auditorium. Unlike the economy at large, the practice of osteopathic medicine is enjoying a long sustained climb. NYIT is doing its part. We are proud that, including you, 5,400 students have earn a D.O. degree at New York Institute of Technology. Whether you go on to become pediatricians, primary care physicians, public policy makers, or practitioners of other specialties, you are individually making an incredible impact on the health of others, for which we again thank you.
As you know, in our world, science and technology are altering all aspects of our lives at a dizzying speed … technology is transforming medical diagnosis and treatment, as well as how we communicate with our patients and each other. This has its disadvantages – for example, patients are perhaps too frequently diagnosing themselves because of their unlimited access to medical information. And it has its advantages: With so-called telemedicine becoming the culmination of interactive health care and modern technology, patients and physicians can visit with each other via the Internet. You’ve seen in both classroom and clinical training how to leverage the power of technology in your work, and even in your four short –well, maybe not so short – years, you’ve seen how quickly technology can develop. In the past decade, patient records have gone from paper … to PDA … to iPad via cloud computing.
It is breathtaking to contemplate the advances in medicine that will take place over the next 50 years, and you will have a front row seat … and perhaps lead the way with some of these advances.
Every year there are altering changes in common medical practice that can be explained only as a reflection of new science. Just last year, physicians offered new recommendations regarding regular screenings for breast cancer, cervical cancer, and prostate cancer. For decades, Americans followed the old recommendations that specified the ages necessary to begin testing, but when new studies contradicted these recommendations, many patients and experts were left completely bewildered. As physicians and so-called “health partners,” the obligation now falls on you to help your patients with the vast amounts of information and care options available to them.
There is a lot that we can be hopeful about – thanks to technology, scientific breakthroughs, and the work of dedicated people. I am encouraged as the president of this university, and as a human being, by the significant research being done in NYCOM’s own labs on potential cures for cardiovascular problems, epilepsy, blindness, and kidney disease, to name a few.
Today, you leave here with a great responsibility: the responsibility to combine your compassion, experience, and education to make a difference in the lives of your patients. You have been trained to heal with your hands and your heart, and now you are officially ready to use that power.
Enjoy the future. You have chosen a noble profession where you will always need to be students. But you’ve already proven you are pretty good at that.
And here’s a simple closing thought: Aristotle once said, “Laughter is a bodily exercise precious to health.” So, keep smiling … and laughing.
Congratulations and good luck in your personal and professional lives.
Edward Guiliano, Ph.D., is president and CEO of New York Institute of Technology (NYIT). Since 2000, he has led NYIT to broad recognition as a distinguished institution of higher learning with a firm national, global, and digital footprint in a wide range of forward-thinking academic programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels.