A nuclear submarine officer, two college Division I football players and identical twins were among the 120 new UCF medical students who received their white coats Monday and pledged to become “One of the good doctors” — a UCF tradition.
The White Coat Ceremony recognizes new M.D. students as colleagues in healthcare. The Class of 2023 is the 11th in the UCF College of Medicine’s young history and includes graduates from Johns Hopkins, Duke, Notre Dame, Emory, Baylor, University of Florida, Stetson, UCF and University of Miami.
Before coming to medical school, Krisandra Hardy was a nuclear submarine officer determined to prove there was a military career path for women on submarines. She spent 14 months living underwater and developed operational plans for several top-secret missions. She said there were many reasons she chose UCF — “its location in the ever-growing Medical City of Lake Nona, its integration of research into the curriculum, its stalwart results. But if I had to narrow it down, it’s because on the day I interviewed, every single person I met was excited to be at the school, and that made me excited, too.”
In his welcoming remarks, UCF’s Interim President Thad Seymour said the growth of Medical City — with a new UCF teaching hospital and cancer center — means “there has never been a better time to join UCF and our College of Medicine.” UCF Lake Nona Medical Center, a partnership between the university and HCA Healthcare, is set to open in 2020 next door to the medical school. Hospital CEO Wendy Brandon attended the White Coat Ceremony, beaming and nodding as Seymour mentioned educational opportunities students might have at the new facility.
In addition to receiving their white coats, UCF’s ceremony is also the students’ first class in medical school led by Deborah German, vice president for medical affairs and founding dean. In front of their family, friends and university leaders, German asks students to imagine the person they love the most is seriously ill. What traits do they want the physician caring for their loved one to have? As students list traits, German writes them on a blackboard that is displayed all year in the medical school lobby. This year, students listed 46 traits, including “compassionate,” “knowledgeable,” “resilient,” “humble,” “honest,” “patient” and “determined.”
“This is your contract with me, with your faculty, friends, family, community and each other,” German said, pointing to the board as the first class concluded. “With the guidance of the faculty and your own hard work, you will become ‘The Good Doctor.’ ”
Seymour noted that UCF’s medical school has gained national attention since it was established in 2006, noting that students rank in the top quartile nationally in every measure of student performance. This year’s class was selected from a pool of 5,120 applicants, had an average MCAT score of 513 and a GPA of 3.79. The class has 61 women and 59 men, and 79 of the students conducted scientific research before entering medical school on topics including tuberculosis, breast cancer and designing future medical devices.
Andrew Broda is one of those young scientists. A bioengineering graduate from the University of Maryland, he became interested in UCF for medical school on the advice of a college mentor. “He said, ‘UCF is where innovation happens,’ ” Broda said. His parents and younger brother traveled from Maryland to see him receive his white coat. And the medical student’s father, Gerald, cried when he talked about his son’s dreams. “I only cry on happy occasions,” he said. “It’s my son moving forward in life. I cry when I think of all the people he will help in the future.”
Tyrel Garner comes to UCF’s medical school after four years at the University of Montana, where he played varsity football as a cornerback. A broken leg at age 8 inspired him to enter medicine. “The doctor showed me pictures and talked through options. When he left, I turned to my mom and said, ‘When I grow up, I want to do what he does,’ ” he said.
Garner interviewed at many medical schools. “Out of all of them. UCF impressed me the most,” he said. “The people were kind and caring. It seemed as though the admissions committee took the time to get to know me rather than treating me like a number. Because UCF is a newer school, I think it is primed to train up-and-coming physicians in the new world of medicine.”