Arif Muhammad, Amisha Singh, Kevin Severson, Jessika Iwanski and Nicole Bejany at the ceremony, which honors new medical students as they accept the responsibility of the doctor-patient relationship. Each student receives a acoat and a stethoscope, thanks to UA College of Medicine – Tucson alumni, faculty and friends. (Photo credit: Mark Thaler/UAHS BioCommunications)
Arif Muhammad, Amisha Singh, Kevin Severson, Jessika Iwanski and Nicole Bejany at the ceremony, which honors new medical students as they accept the responsibility of the doctor-patient relationship. Each student receives a acoat and a stethoscope, thanks to UA College of Medicine – Tucson alumni, faculty and friends. (Photo credit: Mark Thaler/UAHS BioCommunications)

Tucson's College of Medicine Welcomes 135 New Students

The UA College of Medicine – Tucson formally has admitted the Class of 2020, its largest class ever.
Aug. 1, 2016
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The UA College of Medicine – Tucson was one of the earliest U.S. medical schools to adopt the white coat ceremony, holding its first in July 1995. Each white coat has a Humanism in Medicine pin that symbolizes a shared commitment to providing compassionate and competent patient care. The pins are provided as a gift from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, initiators of the first white coat ceremony in 1993.

Kelechi Abarikwu is surrounded by family and friends at the ceremony. (Photo credit: Mark Thaler/UAHS BioCommunications)
Kelechi Abarikwu is surrounded by family and friends at the ceremony. (Photo credit: Mark Thaler/UAHS BioCommunications)
Mariam Astarabadi celebrating with family. (Photo credit: Mark Thaler/UAHS BioCommunications)
Mariam Astarabadi celebrating with family. (Photo credit: Mark Thaler/UAHS BioCommunications)
Pictured are Malou Mulfinger, Class of 2020 medical student Sat Nam Kaur Khalsa, Hari Jot Khalsa, Melody Goodwin and Suhaila Al Haddad. (Photo credit: Kris Hanning/UAHS BioCommunications)
Pictured are Malou Mulfinger, Class of 2020 medical student Sat Nam Kaur Khalsa, Hari Jot Khalsa, Melody Goodwin and Suhaila Al Haddad. (Photo credit: Kris Hanning/UAHS BioCommunications)

A Navajo student who worked with the Johns Hopkins University Center for American Indian Health to build communication with American Indian patients and a nurse who grew up in Togo and supported herself through college are among the new students to be admitted into the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson.

The college welcomed 135 students — its largest class to date — during its 22nd annual white coat ceremony, held at the UA last Friday. Among those in the class, 68 percent are Arizona residents, 35 percent are underrepresented minorities and 37 percent hold a graduate degree.

"You are all now a professional, accepting the responsibilities and sacrifices that accompany that privilege of studying and practicing medicine," Dr. Charles B. Cairns, the college's dean, told the new admits during the ceremony.

"You are ready to begin your careers as physicians and as lifelong learners," Cairns continued. "I encourage each of you to take every opportunity to remind yourselves of the values you expressed in your mission satements, to challenge yourselves to continually improve in knwoledge and compassion, make a difference in the lives of your patients and support those who have supported you in your endeavors."

Last month, the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix welcomed its incoming class of 83 new medical students during a similar event.

Five College of Medicine – Tucson students are pursuing dual medical and doctoral degrees in the MD-PhD Program, designed to train students planning careers in academic medicine or biomedical research. Completion of both degrees typically takes seven to eight years — the first two at medical school, then completion of graduate course work and dissertation research, followed by two years of medical school clinical requirements.

Eleven students are graduates of the college's Pre-Medical Admissions Pathway, or P-MAP, program, launched in 2014 to train students who are inclined to help address the dramatic health disparities encountered by underserved communities, including reservations and rural and border communities. The one-year program, which includes a master's degree in cellular and molecular medicine, is open to Arizona residents who have not had the educational and economic experiences that help students get admitted to medical school, but whose diverse life experiences, academic records and skills make them outstanding candidates.

New students share their stories in this video: