Its members traveled to Ghana, the Peruvian Amazon and rural Haiti to deliver medical care to underserved areas; coordinated with the YWCA and the VCU emergency department to support and advise patients who’ve experienced domestic violence and sexual assault; served on the national licensing committee for U.S. medical schools; went to Bangladesh during monsoon season; and volunteered as a Guatemalan midwife, in an Ecuadorian children’s hospital and locally at CrossOver. View videos

The medical school celebrated these achievements and more at its May 20 convocation and hooding ceremony.

“There are many activities that are important at our medical center including patient care and research. But none is more important than educating the next generation of physicians,” said Jerome F. Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D. “As the 20th largest school of medicine in the country, we’re meeting the demands for medical professionals for not only the commonwealth of Virginia but for the entire nation. And you the Class of 2011 are the embodiment of our school’s aspiration to influence the future of American medicine.”

The ceremony’s keynote speaker was , who addressed the role this year’s graduates will play in eliminating health care disparities for the nation.

“There are many who will benefit from your compassion, your healing hands and your other gifts,” he said. “Do not cast away their prospect for a better tomorrow. It is those opportunities that will enrich you beyond what you might have ever imagined and provide you with a clearer picture of why we have chosen what we do as physicians — something that has been passed to us from our physician ancestors across more than two millennia.”

Convocation speaker

Class President Justin Cross also had the chance to speak to his 176 fellow graduates. In his remarks, he looked back on their four years of medical training and said of the third year, “We were given the privilege of spending most of our day with patients, which was what we came to medical school to do. We can all remember the moments that year, sometimes few and far between; when we knew that we’d actually made a difference. Even as students. And that alone gave us all the motivation we needed to keep going. I suspect that we will see that real-life medicine is much the same. That the difference we make for our patients is what will truly sustain us.”

Graduation weekend also marked the conclusion of training for 175 students with advanced degrees, one of the largest cadres of any U.S. medical school. Of those graduates, 46 earned doctoral degrees, which was the school’s second highest total in its history, second only to 2010.