School of Medicine

Wayne State University School of Medicine

School of Medicine Class of 2013 commencement ceremony celebrates 277 new doctors

Friends Lindsay Richmond, M.D., left, and Philip McDonald, M.D., celebrate graduation May 20, 2013, at the Fox Theatre in Detroit.

Friends Lindsay Richmond, M.D., left, and Philip McDonald, M.D., celebrate graduation May 20, 2013, at the Fox Theatre in Detroit.

Graduate Brenda Satterthwaite, M.D., poses with her boyfriend, from left, and her father, mother and grandmother before the commencement ceremony.

Graduate Brenda Satterthwaite, M.D., poses with her boyfriend, from left, and her father, mother and grandmother before the commencement ceremony.

Jason Epstein, M.D., will soon begin an emergency medicine residency in Lansing, Mich.

Jason Epstein, M.D., will soon begin an emergency medicine residency in Lansing, Mich.

A friend helps a graduate with her ceremony hood.

A friend helps a graduate with her ceremony hood.

Dean Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., congratulates a graduate at the May 20, 2013 commencement and hooding ceremony at Detroit's Fox Theatre.

Dean Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., congratulates a graduate at the May 20, 2013 commencement and hooding ceremony at Detroit's Fox Theatre.

Keynote speaker Atul Grover, M.D., Ph.D., receives the hood marking his honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Wayne State University.

Keynote speaker Atul Grover, M.D., Ph.D., receives the hood marking his honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Wayne State University.

They did it. And they couldn’t be happier.

“Happy to be done and share this day with family and friends,” said graduate and new doctor Lindsay Richmond, M.D., 26, of Clawson, Mich.

The Wayne State University School of Medicine’s 141st commencement and hooding ceremony for 277 men and women who earned the title of doctor was held Monday at Detroit’s historic Fox Theatre.

(Click here for photos from the event).

School of Medicine faculty, deans, department chairs, WSU President Allan Gilmour, his cabinet members and other dignitaries filled the stage as family and friends of the new physicians packed the venue’s main floor and upper levels. Mothers and fathers, grandparents, siblings and children were there, cheering and applauding the culmination of four years of intense studying, exams, courses, clerkships and perhaps more than a few sleepless nights.

Dr. Richmond is headed to an emergency medicine residency at St. John Providence Hospital in Detroit next month. She met friend and fellow graduate Philip McDonald, M.D., 26, in their first year of medical school. Thankfully, graduation wasn’t goodbye for the two. He is staying in WSU’s back yard, studying internal medicine at the Detroit Medical Center. The Saginaw, Mich., native moved to Detroit to participate in WSU’s MedStart program eight years ago, and doesn’t plan to leave anytime soon.

“I’ve been in Detroit for a long time, and love the city. I feel like I’m home here,” he said.

Graduation was an early birthday present for another friend, new physician Jason Epstein, M.D., a Fullerton, Calif., native who turns 39 in two weeks. Ten years ago, he was an unfulfilled Japanese-to-English language translator with an unused undergraduate degree in chemistry. Then he decided to apply for medical school, a two-year process he said. He was 35 on his first day at WSU.

“It’s a huge relief,” he said of graduating.

He is headed to Lansing, Mich., for an emergency medicine residency at Sparrow Hospital.

“Our father went to law school in his 40s, so we sort of have it in our genes,” joked his brother, Dan Epstein, who flew to Detroit from San Francisco for the ceremony. “I’m very proud and excited for him.”

The afternoon was celebratory, but not without poignancy.

“Your parents were right when they told you that you were special. You are,” said Dean Valerie M. Parisi, M.D., M.P.H., M.B.A., beaming at the graduates. “I am extra proud of all of you today and I wish you all the best. Congratulations to the Class of 2013.”

The physicians now move on to graduate medical education, serving as residents, for the next three to seven years, depending on their chosen specialty. More than half of the Class of 2013 will begin practicing medicine in Michigan, good news for a state with a projected physician shortage, as studies show that residents who train in Michigan often remain here for the majority of their careers. Another 35.8 percent will enter primary care residencies.

Whatever their specialty, keynote speaker Atul Grover, M.D., Ph.D., encouraged them to stay engaged as physicians, working as advocates for patients in the new era of health care.

“It is a privilege of the degree, and I hope you don’t take it lightly,” Dr. Grover said. “People need you to speak up for them.”

Dr. Grover received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the ceremony for advancing policies that will lead to better education for students while protecting and improving the health of the public. He is chief public policy officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges, a nonprofit representing all 141 accredited U.S. and 17 accredited Canadian medical schools, as well as nearly 400 teaching hospitals and health systems.

Of Monday’s graduates, 47.7 percent will head out of state to practice medicine in 23 states and Canada, at Yale University’s New Haven Hospital, the Mayo School of Graduate Medical Education in Minnesota, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in California and other prestigious hospitals, universities and medical centers.

Graduate Brenda Satterthwaite, M.D., is headed to an anesthesiology residency in Pittsburgh. The self-proclaimed “farm kid” spent her childhood and teen years running around the family property in Chelsea, Mich., so her decision to attend medical school was “out of the blue, at least as parents we thought it was,” said her mother, Barb Satterthwaite.

Yet as they talked outside the Fox Theatre shortly before the ceremony, her father, Trent Satterthwaite, remembered how helpful she was with the farm’s livestock, giving them shots when needed and other care. “Working on a farm, she got a lot of practical experience,” he said.
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