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USU Celebrates 38th Commencement

Graduates in cap and gown stand during the graduation ceremony

Saving lives, improving readiness: USU graduates more than 330 military healthcare professionals


By Sarah Marshall

During a ceremony steeped in tradition, more than 330 uniformed and civilian professionals received their long-deserved medical, graduate nursing, dental and biomedical science, public health and clinical psychology degrees on May 20 – Armed Forces Day – at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) 38th commencement exercise at the Daughters of the American Revolution Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.

Graduates in uniform were active duty officers in the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force or Public Health Service, and after crossing the stage in their academic regalia, they received their diplomas and left the stage, before changing back into their military uniforms – making for a unique ceremony. Graduating medical students returned to recite their respective service commissioning oath, led individually by each Surgeon General. They were then promoted to their next rank.

The three deans in graduation regalia pose for a photo
Deans from three of USU’s four schools, Dr. Thomas Schneid, Dr. Carol Romano, and Dr. Arthur Kellermann, took part in the commencement pomp and circumstance at DAR Constitution Hall on Armed Forces Day, May 20. 2017.  (Image credit: Sharon Holland)
Commencement speaker Dr. Ronald R. Blanck, chair of USU’s Board of Regents and former Army Surgeon General, explained that USU is unique – not because of its great education, research, or patient care delivered by faculty and students, but because of the synergy between two professions – health care and the military, he said. They share the same values of integrity, courage, commitment and leadership, he said, and especially, service.

“Service is at the core of health care, and at the core of the military – others before self,” Blanck said, speaking from 32 years of experience in the military.

He told the graduates, who also included Public Health Service and civilian graduates, that health care, the military, and family, are all equally important.

“You’ve chosen fields of service, in health care and in the military – service to your professions, service to your patients, service to those you lead, service to your colleagues,” Blanck said. And it’s important to find a balance between those competing demands – being aware of those demands is the first step in achieving that balance, he said.

He went on to impart several words of advice.

“Always listen … be decisive, but never thoughtlessly. Be visible … people will behave the way you do, so set that example. Remember that if you avoid a decision, you’re actually making a decision not to act, so decisiveness is part of that,” he said. Health care today is much more of a team sport, he added, so value what team members bring to the table.

“Refer, discuss, communicate … and always keep that patient in the center of what you’re doing with your teammates.” He concluded, “At the end of the day, realize we’re very fortunate -- we all are -- in taking care of the best patients in the world. The men and women of the uniformed services, active, guard, reserve, retirees, and their families. What a privilege it is.”

Doctoral and master’s degrees were conferred on students from USU’s School of Medicine, Graduate School of Nursing and Postgraduate Dental College during the annual Commencement exercise, May 20, 2017 at DAR Constitution Hall. (Image credit: Sharon Holland)
Among the graduates were 159 Doctor of Medicine degrees, 34 master’s degrees, 15 Doctor of Philosophy degrees, and two Doctor of Public Health degrees, from USU’s F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine. USU’s Daniel K. Inouye Graduate School of Nursing conferred 55 Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees and three Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science degrees, and USU’s Postgraduate Dental College conferred 69 Master of Science in Oral Biology degrees.