Orientation Week for our incoming medical students always begins with our school’s traditional Roll Call.

It’s more than making sure every student we expected has arrived on campus – though there’s an inherent tension in the question of whether a seat will become available at the last minute for someone on the waiting list.

That sense of drama is no doubt emphasized by the setting. Roll Call is held in the historic Egyptian Building. The oldest medical college building in the South, we’ve used it continuously since the fall of 1844.

But chiefly, Roll Call is a significant milestone because of its symbolism. At last you, who’ve worked so hard toward this goal, are becoming part of our medical community. You are joining the medical school and taking your place among generations of physicians, who date back to our school’s 1838 founding.

Yours is a special class, matriculating in the year in which we mark the 175th anniversary of that founding. You’ll be the first class whose entire four-year program will be completed within the walls of the James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Medical Education Center.

The facility is a culmination of years of hard work by our faculty to build a curriculum and space that is second to none. You in the Class of 2017 will be the first to participate in its innovative approach that we believe represents the future of medicine.

That vision has practical implications for next week, when you and your classmates will be in what we’re calling “boot camp” for the Practice of Clinical Medicine. You’ll spend most of the week learning to obtain a history and physical. You’ll perform your first physical examination on a standardized patient by the end of the week. In the past, students typically did not learn this skill set until well into the first semester.

When you – on some distant day, far into the future – look back to your years here on the MCV Campus, I hope that you recall it as one of the best times of your professional life. That’s what I hear when I speak with our alumni, whose experience here has made them fast and firm friends to MCV.

Roll Call is your introduction to that great tradition. And I welcome you.

Former Dean Jerome F. Strauss

Jerome F. Strauss, III, M.D., Ph.D.
Dean, VCU School of Medicine
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System