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2016 Honors Convocation

Associate professor Tobias "Toby" Vancil delivers the Faculty Charge to the UAMS College of Medicine Class of 2016

Associate professor Tobias “Toby” Vancil delivers the Faculty Charge to the UAMS College of Medicine Class of 2016

The UAMS College of Medicine honored the accomplishments and hard work of senior medical students on May 20, the evening before their graduation. The annual Honors Convocation ceremony featured the traditional donning of doctoral hoods, recitation of the Oath of Hippocrates, and presentation of numerous awards.

Inspired by beach-loving, story-telling songwriter Jimmy Buffett, faculty speaker Tobias “Toby” Vancil, M.D., urged the Class of 2016 to “live in the now” when possible both personally and in their professional practice.

Dr. Vancil received the senior Golden Apple Award as the class’s most outstanding teacher this year as well as being chosen by the class to deliver the Charge from the Faculty. The junior class echoed the seniors, presenting Dr. Vancil with their Golden Apple as well.

The associate professor in the college’s Division of General Internal Medicine and director of the Junior Internal Medicine Clerkship told seniors that while it’s important to embrace technology such as electronic health records, they shouldn’t let it interfere with their personal connection with patients.

Professor Jeannette M. Shorey II, M.D., presents awards to graduating senior Venusa Phomakay.

Professor Jeannette M. Shorey II, M.D., presents awards to graduating senior Venusa Phomakay.

“Imagine a Norman Rockwell type painting of your next patient visit,” Dr. Vancil said. “Will it be your patient on the examining table, you with your back turned to them as you stare intently into a computer screen?”

“Don’t let these patient visits become blurry snapshots of a busy day,” the 2004 College of Medicine graduate said. “Take time to have a conversation with the patient; look at them eye-to-eye; use the exam skills you’ve worked so hard to learn.”

Dr. Vancil’s previous honors for teaching include the 2014 and 2015 Golden Apple Awards from COM juniors, numerous Red Sash and Gold Sash awards from seniors, and the college’s 2014 Educational Innovation Award for using simulation education to prepare students exceptionally well for their clinical rotations and internships.

“Every patient you care for will come to you with a story to tell; listen,” said Dr. Vancil. “Pay attention to the details and not just the buzzwords that you think will get you closer to the diagnosis.”

And while medical records make a physician the “author” of what transpires in a clinic visit, Dr. Vancil suggested imagining a patient visit as a story told by an observer. “I challenge you to be the type of character that you would enjoy reading about,” he said.

Awards to graduating seniors included:

Graduating senior Mitch Mitchell dons his doctoral hood with the help of academic leaders Sara Tariq, M.D., and James Graham, M.D.

Graduating senior Mitch Mitchell dons his doctoral hood with the help of academic leaders Sara Tariq, M.D., and James Graham, M.D.

Faculty Key
Venusa Phomakay and James Scott Steele (tie)
Awarded to the graduating senior who in the view of full-time faculty is the most outstanding student for the full four-year period of study.

Senior Buchanan Key
Daniel T. Wallis
Awarded to a top student by a vote of the class.

Winston K. Shorey Award
Venusa Phomakay
Awarded to the graduating senior who in the view of classmates most closely reflects the qualities of an ideal physician.

Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award
Presented by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation
Venusa Phomakay
Selected by peers, the award recognizes humanism and compassion in the delivery of medical care.

Senior Community Service Award
Jacob Carl Smith
Awarded to a graduating senior who in the view of classmates best fulfills the ideals of humanitarian public service as demonstrated through achievement in civic and community programs.

Roberts Key

Awarded to the graduating senior with the highest scholastic grade point average for all four years of medical school. All of the following recipients achieved perfect 4.0 GPAs:

Molly Alexander
William H. Brumley
Jessica L. Gambill
Stephanie J. Kemp
Nicholas A. Rogers
James L. Rose
Matthew Sharum
Daniel T. Wallis
Jordan Walters
James G. Williams

Also during Honors Convocation, students from all four medical school classes honored influential faculty members with the Golden Apple Awards. In addition to the junior and senior class awards presented to Dr. Vancil, Golden Apples were presented on behalf of the freshman class to Alan Diekman, Ph.D., who is a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, and on behalf of sophomores to Sung Rhee, Ph.D., who is an associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology. More than 90 faculty members were recognized by graduating seniors for their outstanding teaching as 2015-2016 Red Sash recipients, and nine of them were invited to wear honorary Gold Sashes for having the most votes from the class.

The 2016 UAMS Commencement Ceremony the next day included the presentation of diplomas to 1,002 graduates of all five UAMS colleges and graduate school, including 163 College of Medicine seniors. (Students who authorized the release of their name are listed by hometown in a Commencement article on the UAMS website.)