Episode 178.0 – Graduation Speech by Dr. Goldfrank

The speech given by Dr. Goldfrank at the 2020 NYU / Bellevue Emergency Medicine Graduation Ceremony

June 30th, 2020 Download Leave a Comment Tags:

Show Notes

Graduation 2020

Lewis R. Goldfrank, MD

June 17, 2020


Congratulations to a wonderful group of physicians. It is a pleasure to recognize your great accomplishments in the presence of your friends, families, loved ones and the residents and faculty who have learned so much from and with you. I would first like to recognize those of you who are members of the Gold Humanism Honor Society.

There are a remarkable number of awardees in our graduating class of 2020.


Joe Bennett (R)

Max Berger (R)

Ashley Miller (R)

Leigh Nesheiwat (S)

Kristen Ng (R)

Emily Unks (S)


Arie Francis (R)

Nisha Narayanan (S)


Elena Dimiceli (S)

Kamini Doobay (S)

Mark Iscoe (R)


Stasha O’Callaghan (S)

Nicholus Warstadt (S)


Aaron Bola (S)

Alison (Ali) Graebner (S)

Aron Siegelson (S)

Melissa Socarras (S)

Sarah Spiegel (S)

Thomas Sullivan (S)

Christy Williams (S)


Integrity, Excellence, Compassion, Altruism, Respect, Empathy, Service

These are the values you want as a doctor for yourself or a loved one,

  • to have outstanding listening skills with patients
  • to be at your side during a medical emergency,
  • to have exceptional interest in service to the community,
  • to have the highest standards of professionalism
  • to integrate a humanistic approach in patient care.

These values are what brought all of you to NYU-Bellevue and that you have honed throughout your training. The remainder of this talk shows how all of you have been successful and demonstrated these values some of you were elected to the Gold Humanism—all of you have achieved humanistic success.

Your personal efforts in the face of uncertainty of the evolution of the pandemic, the inadequate supplies, the hospital and governmental problematic decisions are remarkable. In our country, the President did not mourn the loss of more than a 100,000 human beings and the needs of society. Nor did he provide the leadership and moral support that the country desperately needed to optimally handle this unprecedented crisis. You, in contrast, demonstrate unflappable commitment to address and overcome obstacles to care for your patients, assist your peers, educate and care for your families and friends, while also caring for yourselves. This is a tribute to your humanism. You created essential ways to help patients who were isolated from families and friends during the critical phases of COVID-19. You utilized new tools to communicate your sorrow, your compassion and love, to maintain essential humanistic traditions of medicine while you could not talk, touch or utilize other essential skills to the fullest extent of a physician.

When you recognized that all your knowledge of the social determinants of medicine was playing out as COVID-19 assaulted the poorest in our country, the people of color, the people with essential jobs without personal protective equipment, the people crowded in apartments and subways and buses, you spoke up and acted with appreciation and understanding of these disparities. You recognized that our system of using medicine to correct the societal social institutionally entrenched disparities was inadequate. George Floyd’s  death, and that of Breonna Taylor and innumerable others document the racism in America that destroys a part of us each and every day and by extension reinforces and normalizes white privilege. The ever increasing body of video evidence of the horrors of systemic racism is indisputable. You recognized that the American system of criminalization of social determinants is unacceptable. You spoke up and demonstrated that you saw our blind spots on policing and race. You protested to demand change in America.

Change for equity and justice must occur throughout our society. “Black Lives Matter” will only be realized when the social determinants are truly addressed through changes that impact every vulnerable person. We must recognize that person, institutional and societal failures will not be corrected by medicalizing or criminalizing of socially determined inequities. Racism is systemic. Today you are seeking to create essential changes in medicine that will only occur when all the workplaces and governmental sites across the country, are enriched to allow a full representation of all the voices of all the people.

You are leaders in the response to COVID-19 and the fight against racism. You will not only be remembered for having been present, but particularly for how you have responded. Thank you for your courage, creativity, resiliency and ability to transition and advance under duress. It was a privilege to watch you demonstrate the importance of your core values and the impact that your training here at NYU/Bellevue has had on your ability to integrate them into your practice.

You are truly individuals of immense potential, ideal for advancing our world. How you keep these values and grow them in the next developmental stage of your careers will be critical. Each of you will contribute according to your talent, resources and priorities whether in clinical practice, academics, advocacy or public health. Always in every encounter with patients and their families “Be the change that you wish to see in the world” Mahatma Ghandi.


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