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Erickson to begin studies at the UND School of Medicine

Joel Erickson, son of Ronald and Connie Erickson of Horace, is among 61 first-year medical students, members of the Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) Class of 2014, who started their journey this week to become physicians at the University of North Dakota (UND) School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

The students, 37 men and 29 women, range in age from 21 to 37 years, with the average age of 25. They come to medical school with work experience in an array of fields and academic degrees in biochemistry, biology, chemistry, nursing, psychology, Spanish and zoology.  One student holds a master's degree in anatomy and cell biology and one holds a master's degree in business administration. Seventy-one percent of the students are from North Dakota.

"The Class of 2014 is a group of exceptional students, reflecting the high academic standards of the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences. "They also enter medical school with a variety of impressive health care and humanistic activities to their credit," said Judy DeMers, associate dean for student affairs and admissions. 

Medical students' first week is dedicated to orientation, including introduction to UND's nationally recognized, four-year, patient-centered curriculum, where basic and clinical sciences are taught in the context of patient cases.  Special emphasis is placed on the students' new roles and expectations of them as health care professionals.

Orientation concluded with the White Coat Ceremony at 5:30 p.m., August 6, at the Alerus Center, when students received their first white coats, the physician's traditional garment, which were donated by the North Dakota Medical Association. They recited the Oath of Hippocrates, an ancient vow to uphold basic professional principles.

Keynote speakers for the ceremony were Terry Dwelle, M.D., state health officer, North Dakota Department of Health; Taunya Schleicher, education and training director for the American Red Cross in Grand Forks and the mother of the case-study patient the students learned from during their first week; and Joshua Wynne, M.D., M.B.A., M.P.H., vice president for health affairs and dean of the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences. Each speaker, in turn, discussed a section of their joint address titled "Physician Responsibility: To Society, the Patient and Self."  

Each student received a lapel pin engraved with "Humanism in Medicine," which was donated by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.  After the ceremony, the school hosted a reception for students, family and friends. 

"Recognizing the importance of providing humanistic medical care and establishing this as a goal is a truly satisfying way to end the first week of medical school for our new students.  The ability to share the White Coat Ceremony with family and friends makes it even more meaningful," said DeMers.