New York Times columnist urges UCLA medical students to hold on to their values

At Hippocratic Oath ceremony, Dr. Lisa Sanders charges graduates to ‘be the doctor our patients want us to be’
Dr. Lisa Sanders
Dr. Lisa Sanders delivers the commencement address at the 65th Hippocratic Oath ceremony at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

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Some 160 UCLA medical students received their diplomas May 31, in Dickson Court at the 65th annual Hippocratic Oath ceremony for the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

Keynote speaker Dr. Lisa Sanders gave a stirring address that cut through the unseasonably cool air.

"Each of you has a picture in your heads of the doctor you want to be," said Sanders, an internist at Yale's medical school and author of the New York Times Magazine's popular "Diagnosis" column. "We get to be the doctor we aspire to be -- and that is who our patients want us to be."

She shared the story of a medical student whose curiosity and personal connection with a patient spurred her to research the patient’s condition and convince doctors to grant her a life-changing surgery.

"She was compassionate, kind and had a desire to make a difference," Sanders said. "If you stay true to your values, that's what makes you a force for good."

Dr. Kelsey Martin, dean of the medical school, noted the meaningfulness of this class' graduation to her, given that its students entered school as she moved into the dean's office.

"As a class, you have constantly reminded us why becoming a physician is genuinely a calling, fueled by a deep commitment to alleviate suffering," Martin said. "From the day you first donned your white coats, your class has made it clear what our mission as a public medical school should be."

Martin presented Dr. Myke Federman, an associate professor of pediatrics, with the Sherman Mellinkoff Faculty Award, the medical school's highest faculty honor. Dr. John Mazziotta, vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences and CEO of UCLA Health, recognized philanthropists, Lori and Steve Gordon, who served as honorary marshals.