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Penn Medicine Graduation: What’s Next for the Class of 2013?

Yesterday was the Perelman School of Medicine’s graduationat the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, and for most of the students thatmeans goodbye medical school and hello residency. So where will the 84 men and76 women be heading as they embark on the next phase of their lives?

This year, an impressive 39 percent will take on primarycare residencies around the country, no doubt helping to fill a critical voidthe U.S. has suffered in this area.

Internal medicine and pediatrics are popular disciplinesagain this year. And 26 percentof the graduating class is staying here at the Hospital of the University ofPennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for their residencies. 

For Christopher Sha, life after commencement will pick upout West. Sha, who served as a community medicine fellow and education programsdirector at West Philadelphia’s Sayre Health Center, is gladly continuing hispassion: community health. “That experience reconfirmed my passions in life,and I ended up applying to the University of California, San Francisco’sInternal Medicine Primary Care residency program that has a focus onunderserved populations,” said Sha.

Actually, globaland public health was a common theme at this year’s commencement—for bothstudents and speakers. Tanya Keenan, who served as Board Chair for Power UpGambia her last year of medical school, is also going into internal medicine,but at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.  “The experience [inAfrica] taught me the importance of persistence, patience, respect, and, aboveall else, on-the-ground allies,” said Keenan.

After taking a year off to help coordinate care for Haitianearthquake victims, Naomi Rosenberg finished medical school and will stay herein Philly, over at Temple Hospital, where she will go into an emergencymedicine residency. That will keep her close to the refugees group home inGermantown, Pa. she helped start in order to rehabilitate and get them back ontheir feet.

Penn alumna and U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS)Official Nicole Lurie, MD, MSPH, who serves as the Secretary’s principaladvisor on matters related to bioterrorism and other public health emergencies,gave the commencement address.  And alumni speaker, Robert M. Suskind, MD(’63), an international expert in children malnutrition and obesity who servedas Peace Corps physician in Senegal, West Africa and Director of the ICDDRB inBangladesh,  also gave remarks.

“Look to your left and to your right. One of you will bestanding up here, part of the class of 2063, giving this speech,” he said tolaughs.

But not everyone is headed to a residency this summer.

David Fajgenbaum, who started the National Students of AMFSupport Network in 2006, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supportingcollege students grieving the illness or death of a loved one, and serves asstrategic planning consultant for the Penn Center for Orphan Disease Research and Therapy, decidedto go for a MD/MBA and will continue his studies at the Wharton School until2014, when he graduates.

"I decided to go toWharton because I want to build upon my medical school training and nonprofitexperiences to have an impact on patient care through system level change andtreatment discovery," he said.

Alexander Macnow is putting residency off so he can diveback into the MCAT. Yes, back to the MCAT.

Macnowwas hired by Kaplan Test Prep, for whom he’s the taught the MCAT and PCAT forthe last six years, to be one of the chief content managers for the developmentof the new MCAT 2015 course. Drastic changes are coming from theAssociation of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), so Macnow is happy to serve asone of their four curriculum designers for the Kaplan course. 

In2015, he plans to pursue a residency in pathology with a long-term goal ofbeing an educator at medical schools around the country, teaching anatomy,physiology, histology and pathology.  “Given those goals, this job withKaplan was perfectly in line with ‘learning the ropes’ of quality coursedevelopment and curriculum design,” he said.

Congratulationsto the class of 2013 and best of luck in the future—wherever they may go!

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