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Historic Graduations for the Schools of Medicine & Dentistry at the University of Utah

University of Utah Health Sciences celebrated two major milestones at graduation ceremonies this weekend: the graduation of the first expanded class of the School of Medicine, and the inaugural graduating class of the School of Dentistry.

The School of Medicine held their graduation ceremonies on Friday May 19th 2017 at Kingsbury Hall. 93 students received their Doctor of Medicine degrees – the largest class in the history of the school. The expansion of the class size was made possible just over four years ago when former dean Vivian Lee, MD, went to the Utah State Legislature and successfully requested funds to increase the number of applicants accepted into the school each year.

Lee recently stepped down from her post as dean, but attended the ceremony to honor the class of 2017 and their accomplishments. The students honored Lee as well, asking acting University of Utah Health CEO Lorris Betz, MD, to read the following op-ed they had penned.

"The road to medicine is not an easy one. Academic rigor aside, it is filled with challenges to character, emotion, and ethics that shape each generation of future physicians. Medical training is not a linear career path but one that takes a meandering route through the beautiful peaks and devastating valleys of human experience. To practice medicine is to see the best and the worst that humanity has to offer. It is during this formative educational period that educators and administrators can guide learners to the highest ideals of the profession.

As the student body at the University of Utah School of Medicine, we want to publically extend our gratitude to Dean Vivian Lee for her tireless work on our behalf. As our Dean she has been a determined advocate for students and has challenged us to continually improve ourselves both academically and professionally. She has instilled in us the words of American surgeon and author Atul Gawande, "Better is possible. It does not take genius. It takes diligence. It takes moral clarity. It takes ingenuity. And above all, it takes a willingness to try."

Thank you, Dean Lee, your influence has shaped our curriculum, our facilities, our University and our lives more than you know. You've inspired multiple generations of women and men to rise to the challenges that face us in healthcare and for that we will always be grateful. You have taught us strength and resilience in the face of uncertainty. You have equipped us to face the future. Your legacy of bold and imaginative ideas will continue to permeate the culture here.


The student body of the University of Utah School of Medicine"

Following the reading of the op-ed the students further honored Lee with a standing ovation.

On Saturday it was time for dentistry students to shine as 20 men and women became the first ever class to receive diplomas from the School of Dentistry. The occasion was especially important as the dental school is the first new school or college established at the University of Utah in 50 years.

The graduating class of the dental school is especially impressive with 100% pass-rate on Part 1 and Part 2 of the National Board Dental Examinations (NBDE) (written exam given nationally to graduates from dental school). The class also earned a 100% pass-rate on the Western Regional Examining Board (WREB) Examination (this is the "practical exam" to get dental licensure).

Thirteen out of 20 students (65%) will continue their education in residencies or fellowships across the nation.