I love beginnings. And there are few things that carry a greater sense of beginning than the start of school.
Even though July 1 is the official beginning of the academic and fiscal year for us, this week in August feels like the start of the new academic year. The incoming students remind me in a powerful way of why we do what we do.
Our incoming class encompasses many programs, from undergraduate nursing students to M.D./Ph.D. candidates. Even though most start classes this week, students in some of our nursing and health related professions programs have been here since May and residents and fellows began July 1. Here are a few stats about our incoming class:
- We have a total of 1,059 new students, plus another 111 who are here beginning their third postgraduate year in the School of Pharmacy and who are counted in the Oxford campus' enrollment.
- In addition, last month we welcomed 174 new house officers (with two more set to join later). All told, there are currently 641 residents and fellows in 61 programs.
- Of the 1,059 new students, 517 come to us from undergraduate programs at Mississippi public universities (including UMMC).
- Another 94 come from private four-year colleges in the Jackson area (Belhaven, Millsaps, Mississippi College or Tougaloo).
- 944 come to us from in-state colleges and 115 attended out of state schools.
This week I had the privilege of kicking off our general orientation for incoming students. During my remarks, or at other times when I'm with students in these first few weeks, I try to get across a number of the “big ideas” I've listed below.
We are glad you are here. You have choices of where you go to school and we are glad you chose us. I personally feel a heavy responsibility to be sure you receive a quality education in a safe environment.
There are hundreds of people who work every day to educate and support all of you. Our academic programs have wonderful leadership - the strongest team we've ever had, I believe - and they all put your education first. The faculty feel a tremendous obligation to prepare you for your future careers. The state of Mississippi has made significant investments in your future.
However, at the end of the day, although your welfare and success are very important to me, my #1 obligation is to your future patients.
Your career as a professional starts NOW. Not when you graduate. Not when you finish residency or whatever is next. Now.
So today, decide what kind of physician or nurse or therapist or dentist or scientist or - fill in the blank - you want to be and start being that person. This is what professionalism is all about and we expect that of everyone who works or studies here.
Health care is a team sport. You will never be able to do your job effectively without the help and support of other members of the team. Respect and look out for each other.
Never forget what an honor and privilege it is to take care of people when they are sick, injured and vulnerable. Nothing will give you greater reward.
So today I wish all of our new students the very, very best of everything as we all strive toward A Healthier Mississippi.