The inaugural class of Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine, a group of 30 students who helped pioneer a new approach to medical education, graduated today at Hofstra University’s John Cranford Adams Playhouse.
“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.”
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 is training of all first-year medical students as emergency medical technicians whoride with North Shore-LIJ Health System ambulance crews.
“Every graduating class is special, but a medical school’s charter class is truly distinctive,” said Lawrence G. Smith, MD, MACP, founding dean of the School of Medicine. “These students are confident self-starters whose participation helped us to shape and refine the cutting-edge curriculum that would make the School of Medicine a leading center for medical education in the 21st century.”
The graduation of the charter class is the crowning achievement in a year of milestones for the School of Medicine, including opening a new state-of-the-art facility, earning full accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), 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.
“Today is the culmination of many hopes and dreams, struggles and success – for our medical students, their families, for Hofstra University and the North Shore-LIJ Health System,” said Michael J. Dowling, president and CEO of the North Shore-LIJ Health System. “We are beaming with pride for the first graduates of the first new allopathic medical school in New York state in more than 40 years.”
Following their commencement, the newly minted physicians will start their post-graduate work at elite institutions across the country, including North Shore-LIJ hospitals.
“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 Health System. “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 [North Shore-LIJ and Hofstra University] 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.”
Said Samantha Ruff, who is looking forward to training in surgery at North Shore-LIJ: “The faculty and staff are incredibly supportive and engaged in the students' development. Throughout my four years, there was never a shortage of faculty ready and willing to support me and my career.”
The commencement ceremony also included the bestowing of the Branson Sparks Humanism Award. Sparks, who completed his first year with the charter class, died in 2013.