Wright Center graduation ceremony celebrates residents and fellows as they embark on the next phase in their medical careers
The Wright Centers for Community Health and Graduate Medical Education celebrated the accomplishments of 69 residents and fellows who completed their specialized education and training during the 44th annual graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 25, at the Scranton Cultural Center at the Masonic Temple.
The Class of 2022, known for its resiliency and dedication in the face of a worldwide pandemic, features graduates from the Internal Medicine (28), Regional Family Medicine (11), National Family Medicine (16) and Psychiatry (4) residencies, and Cardiovascular Disease (3), Gastroenterology (2) and Geriatrics (3) fellowships, many of whom will continue their education or practice of medicine in Northeast Pennsylvania.
The graduating class also includes the first two dental graduates who are members of The Wright Center’s affiliation with the New York University Langone Dental Medicine Postdoctoral Residency Program.
The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education’s cohort of highly skilled and compassionate caregivers will help to address the nation’s physician workforce shortage and improve access to care.
“Through it all, though, The Wright Center has remained true by following our guiding mission and core values, which remain our bedrock,” said Linda Thomas-Hemak, M.D., president and CEO, in her welcoming remarks. “We have addressed the far-ranging effects of world events on the people we aim to lift up and provide opportunity to every single day.
“There is no doubt that COVID-19 has reshaped health care and how we train and educate our residents and fellows, who offer hope for the future of our national health care delivery and educational systems,” she said. “I know the experience has been challenging – fraught with uncertainty, anxiety and unconscionable loss.”
Graduates of this year’s class who plan to stay in the region to practice medicine or continue their studies include Dr. Gurminder Singh, who will begin an internal medicine residency at The Wright Center; Dr. Roger Elliott, who will join Adfinitas Health, Scranton, as a hospitalist; Dr. Pranav Karambelkar and Dr. Purveshkumar Patel who will remain with The Wright Center for a Cardiovascular Disease fellowship; Dr. Jacob Miller, who will join the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Wilkes-Barre as a teaching hospitalist, and Dr. Saba Safdar who will join the recently opened Lehigh Valley Hospital in Dickson City as a hospitalist.
Other members of the graduating class will continue their education or begin practicing medicine across the United States in Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.
Following the welcome address, Pranav Karambelkar, M.D., an internal medicine chief resident and president of house staff council, congratulated his fellow graduates on their successful completion of their residencies and fellowships.
“The onset of the pandemic threw a mixed bag of emotions at us, including a sense of fear, uncertainty, fatigue, isolation, anger and grief. It tested our knowledge, our patience and our confidence,” he said during his graduate remarks. “We call them ‘challenges,’ but at times that felt like a major understatement. We knew little about how to tackle this virus and how to comfort our patients, friends, families and ourselves. But we as residents never backed down. We wore those fearless faces under our masks everyday with pride as we cared for our patients.
“We looked to each other for emotional support and a sense of normalcy in a life that was otherwise stressful,” added Karambelkar. “The sense of camaraderie was like no other and it’s a feeling I’ll never forget.”
Jumee Barooah, M.D., The Wright Center’s designated institutional official, acknowledged the graduates’ “dedication and determination and patient and community service” that played an oversized role in their success.
“As practicing physicians, you are also lifelong learners and you are not finished growing as individuals and clinicians,” she said. “You will continue to be problem-solvers as you adapt, study and research symptoms and issues in order to shape and improve your chosen profession.”
Keynote speaker Harold Baillie, Ph.D., chairperson of The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education Board of Directors, provided sage advice to each member of the class as they embark on a lifelong career of care and service to their patients.
“That magic, the world of science and skill and experience that you bring to the patient, and to a troubled world, magic enhanced and made real by the trust that the patient brings to you, is the source of what I consider to be the two greatest and most challenging virtues you will need: humility and responsibility,” he said. “You don’t know everything, you can’t control nature, and at best you are a learning partner with your patient. Adding to that humility you must keep always in mind that it is your patient, not you, who suffers their biology and looks to you for their care.
“That humility leads directly to your responsibility: They have to come to you in trust, for whatever help and hope you can give them,” Baillie added. “By welcoming them, you take on the utmost responsibility to see them through their journey, committing your ability to its absolute limit in the face of nature every bit as dangerous and beautifully resourceful as Kipling described. The dignity and limited resources of that human being now in your charge demand of you no less.”
In his closing remarks, Lawrence LeBeau, D.O., program director of the National Family Medicine Residency, reminded graduates that their experiences during their time with The Wright Center do not define their futures as medical professionals.
“You have all shown remarkable resilience and a resolve to learn your craft while providing compassionate, high-quality, community-oriented care despite all the additional challenges thrown at you by the pandemic,” said LeBeau. “Hopefully, the experience and some of the lessons learned from it will help to guide your career by motivating you to be strong advocates for your patients, strong advocates and supporters of a more just and equitable health care system and, more broadly, as leaders in your communities to support the changes needed to build a more just and equitable society as a whole.”
Established in 1976, The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education is the nation’s largest Health Resources and Services Administration-funded Teaching Health Center for Graduate Medical Education program, a critical component of the country’s physician workforce pipeline that fills an urgent need for primary care physicians.