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May 13, 2013 // By Steve Graff // Comments

Penn Medicine Graduation: What’s Next for the Class of 2013?

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Yesterday was the Perelman School of Medicine’s graduation at the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, and for most of the students that means goodbye medical school and hello residency. So where will the 84 men and 76 women be heading as they embark on the next phase of their lives?

This year, an impressive 39 percent will take on primary care residencies around the country, no doubt helping to fill a critical void the U.S. has suffered in this area.

Internal medicine and pediatrics are popular disciplines again this year. And 26 percent of the graduating class is staying here at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia for their residencies. 

For Christopher Sha, life after commencement will pick up out West. Sha, who served as a community medicine fellow and education programs director at West Philadelphia’s Sayre Health Center, is gladly continuing his passion: community health. “That experience reconfirmed my passions in life, and I ended up applying to the University of California, San Francisco’s Internal Medicine Primary Care residency program that has a focus on underserved populations,” said Sha.

Actually, global and public health was a common theme at this year’s commencement—for both students and speakers. Tanya Keenan, who served as Board Chair for Power Up Gambia her last year of medical school, is also going into internal medicine, but at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.  “The experience [in Africa] taught me the importance of persistence, patience, respect, and, above all else, on-the-ground allies,” said Keenan.

After taking a year off to help coordinate care for Haitian earthquake victims, Naomi Rosenberg finished medical school and will stay here in Philly, over at Temple Hospital, where she will go into an emergency medicine residency. That will keep her close to the refugees group home in Germantown, Pa. she helped start in order to rehabilitate and get them back on their feet.

Penn alumna and U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Official Nicole Lurie, MD, MSPH, who serves as the Secretary’s principal advisor on matters related to bioterrorism and other public health emergencies, gave the commencement address.  And alumni speaker, Robert M. Suskind, MD (’63), an international expert in children malnutrition and obesity who served as Peace Corps physician in Senegal, West Africa and Director of the ICDDRB in Bangladesh,  also gave remarks.

“Look to your left and to your right. One of you will be standing up here, part of the class of 2063, giving this speech,” he said to laughs.

But not everyone is headed to a residency this summer.

David Fajgenbaum, who started the National Students of AMF Support Network in 2006, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting college students grieving the illness or death of a loved one, and serves as strategic planning consultant for the Penn Center for Orphan Disease Research and Therapy, decided to go for a MD/MBA and will continue his studies at the Wharton School until 2014, when he graduates.

"I decided to go to Wharton because I want to build upon my medical school training and nonprofit experiences to have an impact on patient care through system level change and treatment discovery," he said.

Alexander Macnow is putting residency off so he can dive back into the MCAT. Yes, back to the MCAT.

Macnow was hired by Kaplan Test Prep, for whom he’s the taught the MCAT and PCAT for the last six years, to be one of the chief content managers for the development of the new MCAT 2015 course. Drastic changes are coming from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), so Macnow is happy to serve as one of their four curriculum designers for the Kaplan course. 

In 2015, he plans to pursue a residency in pathology with a long-term goal of being an educator at medical schools around the country, teaching anatomy, physiology, histology and pathology.  “Given those goals, this job with Kaplan was perfectly in line with ‘learning the ropes’ of quality course development and curriculum design,” he said.

Congratulations to the class of 2013 and best of luck in the future—wherever they may go!

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