Dear colleagues,

Over the past two weeks, we’ve had the pleasure of welcoming the 188 members of the Class of 2026 into our community and the legacy of our School of Medicine. Our new medical students have come from 19 states and the District of Columbia as well as three Canadian provinces to learn from and train with you – our superb faculty and staff – on their journey to becoming healers, scientists, leaders and advocates. Our thanks go to the Admissions Office and to all of you who supported the recruitment, interviewing and orientation of this exceptional class.

Like all our amazing alumni who have come before, the Class of 2026 is an outstanding and talented group of junior colleagues who have taken many different paths to get here. They have worked in restaurants, a blueberry lab and emergency rooms, for AmeriCorps, at orthopaedic clinics and with a marine animal rescue center. They’ve taught art history, fifth grade science and indoor cycling and served as paramedics, a tissue recovery coordinator, a park ranger, a nuclear medicine technologist and a curator of private libraries.

As Susan D. Roseff, M.D., chair of the Division of Clinical Pathology and vice chair of the Department of Pathology, illustrated in her keynote address during last Friday’s White Coat Ceremony, the path to becoming a physician often does not run straight.

“I wish I hadn’t been so concerned about all of the deviations I had in my pathway,” Dr. Roseff told the audience at the Carpenter Theatre and online. “I think of all of these different diversions as really being ‘happy accidents.’”

She continued: “I am living proof that it’s OK to stop when you don’t think things are going well or to make different choices because I think sometimes those lead you not to where you thought you were going – they lead you to where you’re really supposed to be.”

We are grateful to Dr. Roseff for her insightful and inspirational remarks. We also greatly appreciate all the faculty in attendance and the dedicated staff who helped make this wonderful event a success. A recording of the ceremony is available on our website, and photos will be posted soon.

For our impressive group of new students, the hard and dedicated work – and the fulfillment it brings – has only just begun. We stand ready, as faculty, residents, staff and alumni, to help guide and support them in realizing their full potential as great doctors and instruments of change within our communities.

Please join me in welcoming the Class of 2026, and thank you for the role you will play in their individual and collective successes.

With gratitude,

David P. Chelmow, M.D. - Interim Dean, VCU School of Medicine; Interim Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health