On May 17, 2014, Heidi Chumley, M.D., Executive Dean and Chief Academic Officer of American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC), welcomed distinguished guests of the Government of Sint Maarten, faculty, staff, and members of the extended AUC family to the university’s 2014 Commencement Ceremonies. Here are her commencement remarks. 

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
 
These famous lines, in the poem by Robert Frost, remind me of you. You have taken the road less traveled by to fulfill your dream of becoming a physician.
 
Think back to when you arrived here. Maybe you knew someone who had gone to AUC before you—maybe you didn’t. Maybe there were people in your incoming class that you knew as undergraduates. Or maybe you were the only person you knew who had ever come here. Whatever the case, I imagine that for many if not most of you, this path to your medical degree seemed to be the road less traveled.
 
Something very interesting happens when you take that road. You look around and see others on it, walking the same road and facing the same direction. In time you come to find that you are not a multitude of individuals, walking alone, but in fact a group of colleagues and friends walking together. The fact of this shared experience – the bonding that it creates, the collegiality – might cause you to forget what stands you apart from the people on the more traveled roads. You might begin to feel, well, ordinary.
 
I’m here today to remind you that that’s not true. You are not ordinary. You are extraordinary because of your journey to get to this point.
 
I know you are extraordinary because I have seen graduates who come from the more traveled road. I know their pathway. I walked their path to my medical degree many years ago. I know what is on that road, and in the past year I have come to understand, appreciate, and admire the road that you have taken. There is so much to recommend it.
 
You have broadened your perspective. You lived in another country, immersed in another culture.
 
You have sat in classrooms and labs with fellow students who were from different parts of the country, different parts of the world. Students from big cities and from small towns.
 
You have found common cause and forged new friendships with people who do not believe everything that you believe. People who don’t look like you, or talk like you.
 
Most of you went to several different clinical sites, some of you in both the US and the UK, and you experienced different populations and health care systems.
 
In each case, you broadened your perspective. The road less traveled exposed you to situations you might not have otherwise encountered. It challenged you. And it gave you an advantage. However you got here, whatever obstacles you had to overcome along the way, I assure you: your experience at AUC, the journey you have made, gives you an advantage going forward.
 
Here’s why: we need you. Big cities, small towns, large hospitals, local clinics – we need you. And not because there is a shortage of physicians, but because there is a shortage of the kind of physicians with the kinds of skills and personal attributes we need today.
 
As a leader of this medical school, my primary goal is to see you leave this institution with those skills and attributes. That’s what I’m here for, that’s what the faculty are here for, and that’s what everyone who has supported you at this institution is here for.
 
The road you have traveled has been a huge part of this goal being achieved. The work you have done along the way, the experiences you have had – both those that our curriculum brings to you and those you have created on your own – have built in you a deep well of personal capacity. I define this as the ability to manage life. Think back to your clinical training – it wasn’t so long ago. Most of you moved around a bit, re-inventing life several times during the year, learning new cities and new hospitals while learning clinical medicine. That takes personal capacity. 
 
I assure you – don’t worry – that in your residency training and when you enter practice, you will draw upon information that you learned as you prepared for Step 1.  But: you’ll draw far more on the personal capacity that you’ve developed by walking the road less traveled.
 
Just as important, your journey through AUC has increased your collective capacity. Here’s what I mean by that. When you are making your way through something difficult, you look around to others and learn to work together leveraging different strengths to manage the difficult journey together. That is collective capacity – your ability to see others around you, build teams, and work together to reach a goal.
 
More than a broad perspective and personal capacity, your skills in leveraging collective capacity will set you apart. You see, patients are no longer managed by single physicians. They are managed by health care teams. The health care system will not be fixed by individual physicians, but by health care teams. Your skills in leveraging collective capacity have put you a step ahead.
 
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
 
On behalf of AUC, we are very proud of you. You have walked an extraordinary road, and I hope it has made all the difference. Remember that road, be extraordinary, and go make all the difference that you can! Thank you!

Dr. Heidi Chumley

Posted May 17, 2014 09:44 PM

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