Class of 2020 honored during virtual commencements

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May commencements are occurring virtually this month in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 700 students have completed requirements for entry into the health care and research workforce as physicians, nurses, dentists, health professionals and biomedical scientists. Many will remain in Texas to practice.

The Long School of Medicine conferred the Doctor of Medicine degree to 206 graduates on Sunday, May 17. The virtual ceremony included remarks by William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP, president of UT Health San Antonio, and messages from Dean Robert Hromas, M.D., other deans of the school, and class leaders.

The Class of 2020 will be remembered for finishing medical school under the restrictions of the pandemic. In March, members of the class participated in the annual Match Day experience, also held virtually. Match Day is a national event when graduating medical students from more than 130 schools learn where they will do their residency training.

“This year’s match is the best we have had in recent memory,” Dr. Hromas said in a message to faculty, staff and students March 20. “Our overall match rate is 99.5%. We had students match into 23 different specialties.”

Among the Long School of Medicine graduates:

  • 17.2% matched at UT Health San Antonio programs.
  • 20.3% will stay in San Antonio.
  • 47.4% will remain in Texas.
  • More than four out of 10 graduates (44.2%) matched into a primary care specialty, answering a critical need of the nation.

The graduating seniors of the Long School of Medicine contributed in a significant way to the university’s COVID-19 volunteer response. Students answered hotlines of the Southwest Texas Regional Advisory Council, the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District and the South Texas Veterans Health Care System.

Medical students also participated in offering telehealth for clinics of the Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson; the University Health System Infectious Diseases COVID Service; the UT Health surgical subspecialty clinics; and the VA palliative care unit.

Students volunteered in blood drives, prepared evidence-based medicine information sheets, offered support for health care workers, staffed screening tables at building entrances, and participated in other activities.

Watch the Long School of Medicine commencement video.

Graduates from the School of Nursing were honored with a virtual celebration on May 12, which was also the 200th birthday of Florence Nightingale, the pioneer of modern nursing.

Dean Eileen Breslin, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, and other School of Nursing leaders shared their words of inspiration and gratitude for the graduates’ perseverance and dedication in their academic pursuit of a career in nursing. The graduating class also received special congratulatory messages via videos from Dr. Henrich, local chief nursing officers and Mayor Ron Nirenberg.

School of Nursing students volunteered and continue to volunteer in significant ways. Several students are involved in contract tracing efforts in Bexar County. Nursing students have screened faculty, staff and students at building entrances, staffed hotlines, given blood and volunteered in many other ways.

Watch messages to the School of Nursing graduates from Dr. Henrich and local leaders.

The School of Dentistry’s virtual commencement will take place Thursday, May 28 at 5:30 p.m. Dr. Henrich will address the graduates, along with Dean Peter Loomer, B.Sc., D.D.S., Ph.D., MRCD(C), FACD, and other speakers.

About 100 students will receive the Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree. Approximately 30 dental hygiene students will also receive degrees.

The School of Health Professions will confer degrees to 160 students in the following fields:

  • Emergency health sciences.
  • Respiratory care.
  • Medical laboratory sciences.
  • Speech-language pathology.
  • Physical therapy.

The Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences honored its graduates with a website that includes an address by Dr. Henrich, Dean David Weiss, Ph.D., and a student speaker. The graduate school has produced another 130 graduates who will change the world through life sciences research in many avenues.

They include:

48 Master of Science students.
1 Certificate.
4 Doctorate of Medical Physics.
33 Doctor of Pharmacy.
44 Ph.D.

This story may be updated as additional information is received.

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