Dear colleagues,

Earlier this week, we were thrilled to gather in person with the Class of 2024, after an unconventional start to their medical school career, to mark their transition from the classroom to the clinics and wards and to help them formally don their iconic white coats.

We also were pleased to welcome back alum Dr. Robin Foster as keynote speaker. Dr. Foster, who is a professor of emergency medicine and pediatrics in our School of Medicine and medical director of the Children’s Hospital of Richmond Child Protection Team, first addressed the class in 2020 during their virtual Transition to Medical School Ceremony.

On Monday, Dr. Foster spoke about the difference between the first two years of medical school – when students are “assigned lectures and readings and [answer] thousands of standardized questions with only one right answer” – and the last – where the practice of medicine begins.

“The goal is different than the work you have done before,” she said. “You are not looking for the one correct answer to a multiple-choice question. You are learning from each clinician, staff, patient and family about how to create the best approach for you to provide excellent patient care.”

Essential to positively impacting the lives of patients and their families is showing up not only with knowledge and skill, but also with respect and compassion. That is why – in front of their loved ones and our School of Medicine community – these students recommitted themselves to delivering compassionate patient care by reciting the Declaration of Geneva, a contemporary version of the Hippocratic Oath. A recording and photos from this ceremony are available on our website.

We are immensely proud of the Class of 2024’s adaptability and resilience as they have navigated their first two years of medical school during a global pandemic. The lessons they have learned have not only prepared them for what they will face in the clinic but will also serve them as they meet the unanticipated challenges of the future. All of us, as faculty, residents, fellows, staff and alumni, stand ready to guide and support them in realizing their full potential as great doctors and instruments of change within our communities.

With pride and gratitude,

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