Graduation Remarks: 2019

May 19, 2019

Good morning. I am Larry Jameson, Dean of the Perelman School of Medicine.

It is great to see this huge turnout -- and everyone is here to celebrate YOU, the Class of 2019.

I know you’re eager to walk across the stage, but we have a few formalities to accomplish first.

This ceremony is a wonderful occasion for each of you, and we couldn’t have hoped for a more talented, hard-working group of graduates.

One tradition that links us to the generations that came before us was the procession of academic regalia that began this ceremony. Most marchers are members of our faculty -- the professors, the clinicians, the scientists -- who have been role models and mentors, sharing their wealth of knowledge and their values of humanism and professionalism.

The procession also included trustees of Penn and Penn Medicine, whose service to the school is invaluable.

I want to recognize some of them sitting with us today:

  • David Cohen
  • Walter Gamble
  • Rosemary Mazanet
  • Ralph Muller
  • Kevin Mahoney

Please join me in saluting our faculty and trustees.

To reach this milestone, you’ve worked extraordinarily hard, met every challenge we set before you, and amazed us with your accomplishments.

Your families, spouses, partners, and friends have also made sacrifices to get you to this point. Arguably, they’re happier to have reached this day than you are. This could be your last tuition bill! For their support I’m sure you’re deeply grateful, so please turn and acknowledge the people who have supported you. [LEAD APPLAUSE.]

This is a moment of great change and transition. In some ways, it’s bittersweet. Many of you will be moving away to a new city. As you begin internships in the next month, the learning curve will be steep, but also incredibly exciting and invigorating as you hone your skills and begin your lives as doctors.

Penn has prepared you well for this new responsibility. You have proven your ability to acquire the knowledge and skills to serve as outstanding physicians.

When John Morgan founded our medical school more than 250 years ago, he made a promise to future medical students: “You will be in a condition to practice with skill and reputation, and to transmit your knowledge, and the benefits, thereof, to a succession of others.”

If those words sound familiar, it’s because they have been inscribed on the wall of JMEC 5, your home away from home, and you have passed them on your way to and from classes.

It’s humbling to think that a promise made so many years ago, before even a single student had graduated from our medical school, has been kept over such a great period of time.

At Penn Medicine we are accustomed to taking the long view, and we have a tradition of inviting the 50th reunion class to graduation. We have in attendance several members of the Class of ’69. Please raise your hands [LEAD APPLAUSE].

Soon you will be hearing from a member of this class – Dr. Edward T. Anderson, an interventional cardiologist who has had a distinguished career at Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City, CA. I would like to thank Dr. Anderson and the other members of the Class for their wonderful support.

What strikes me about this tradition is that we have a group of doctors who have been in practice for 50 years, and another group --  you -- who will be practicing for another 50 years. So at this moment in time, we’re looking at a span of 100 years in medicine.

This is an inspiring sight. Today’s graduates could not find better role models than our 50-year alumni.  They never stopped learning and over decades adapted to enormous changes in our profession. You will have to do the same over the course of your careers -- perhaps even more so, as the creation of new biomedical knowledge and the accompanying pace of change continue to accelerate.

Every branch of science has its golden age. Now is our time in biomedicine. The tools we have for discovery, diagnosis, and treatment have never been more powerful. As you enter medical practice, the use of imaging, minimally invasive surgery, new medicines, informatics, and artificial intelligence will allow you to make diagnoses earlier and treat diseases with ever-increasing precision and better outcomes.

Those advances make our health system in many ways the best in the world. However, we also know that by some important measures – whether life expectancy, maternal and infant mortality, or deaths from so-called “diseases of despair” -- the health of our society falls short of our expectations.

You have acquired a physician’s patient-centered perspective on issues of health equity. Moreover, you benefit from your diversity and wide-ranging life experiences. Those are tremendous strengths as you join a healthcare workforce that is team-based and must continue to innovate, communicate effectively, expand access, and address healthcare disparities in parallel with traditional medical needs.

The Perelman School of Medicine has prepared you extraordinarily well for this task. We are very proud of you and look forward to your impact.

It is now my privilege to introduce today’s graduation speaker, a physician whose leadership across the broad landscape of medicine exemplifies a comprehensive vision of healing.

I’m proud to say that Reed V. Tuckson is an alumnus of Penn’s Internal Medicine Residency and General Medicine Fellowship, the Penn Leonard Davis Institute, and the Wharton School of Business.

As the Managing Director of Tuckson Health Connections, LLC, he champions the use of data and analytics to improve health promotion, quality and cost-effective, person-centered care outcomes.

Over the course of a long and distinguished career, Dr. Tuckson has served as:
  • Executive Vice President and Chief of Medical Affairs for UnitedHealth Group;
  • Senior Vice President for Professional Standards of the American Medical Association;
  • President of the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science;
  • Senior Vice President of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation,
  • and Commissioner of Public Health for the District of Columbia.

Dr. Tuckson is an active member of the National Academy of Medicie and has served on numerous boards and federal health advisory committees. His broad experience has made him a respected voice on a remarkable range of issues, including health reform, infant mortality, children’s health, violence, radiation testing, telemedicine, and  bioethics.

These are extraordinary accomplishments, and it is my distinct honor and pleasure to welcome to the podium Dr. Reed V. Tuckson.