The excitement and anticipation of students beginning a new chapter of life at the UMKC School of Medicine wasn’t lost on second-year medical student Akash Guruswamy.
The school’s 2020 Richard T. Garcia Award winner, Guruswamy reflected on his first days as a medical student and offered encouragement to his newest colleagues during the annual InDOCtrination Ceremony on Aug. 21.
After moving into their dormitory rooms on the UMKC Volker Campus just days earlier, most of the first-year class watched the virtual ceremony online from their new homes as a precaution to the ongoing coronavirus. The annual event kicked off a full day of orientation, marking the initial step for 107 medical students along their journey to earning a medical degree.
The class experienced the traditional elements of the InDOCtrination ceremony. One is the presentation of the Garcia Award, given annually to a second-year student for outstanding leadership, compassion toward fellow students and first-year academic performance.
Receiving the Garcia award, Guruswamy encouraged the class to enjoy the experience of meeting new people, exploring new places and, for many, a new independence. He also recognized the apprehension that comes with starting medical school, saying his first year was filled with times of anxiety.
“You’re not alone,” he said of those who feel anxious about starting medical school. “It’s totally normal. This program is hard, but look at it this way, you were selected for a seat in this program because the admissions council knew that you are capable.”
The ceremony also included a welcome from School of Medicine Dean Mary Anne, Jackson, who added her encouragement by reminding the class that they are the future of health care.
The highlight of the program followed with the introduction of each of the individual students with their first-year docent units and listening to the Oath of Physicians that each will recite when they receive the medical degrees.
This year’s class is a diverse group made up of 73 women and 34 men from a dozen states across the country from California to Maryland with hometowns as small as 200 and metropolitan areas of more than 9 million people. Some are the first in their families to pursue a career in medicine, while others are the first in their family to attend college.
Members of the class was also reminded that in preparing for medical school they have demonstrated that they deeply care about people and possess an aptitude for scientific inquiry and study that will help them succeed.
“You are on your way to a truly amazing profession,” Jackson said.