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Message to third class of medical students: ‘Follow the leaders’

White coat ceremony completes week of orientation

Contact: Curt Smith

​Follow the leaders to succeed in medicine, leadership expert Terence Moore told the incoming group of 104 Central Michigan University College of Medicine students on Friday in McGuirk Arena.

"The most dynamic people I know in the Great Lakes Bay Region – and trust me, I do get around, so I see them all – are not at the Fortune 500 companies here, they are not in the healthcare system, nor are they in the 2,400 nonprofit organizations," Moore, a former longtime MidMichigan Health chief executive officer who has written nine books on leadership and was the keynote speaker for the annual white coat ceremony, said. "They are right here in your second-year class."

The third class brings the total medical student population at CMU to 272, and 85 percent are from Michigan. Dr. George Kikano, addressing his first incoming class since taking the role of dean in April, spoke about the ongoing need for physicians in rural and urban areas, noting a recent national study that shows an expected shortage of 46,000 to 90,000 doctors in the next 10 years.

"We need them everywhere," Kikano said. "We need them in Saginaw. We need them in Mount Pleasant. We need them across Michigan. We need them nationally."

For the rest of the ceremony, talk of family was evident on stage and off. College of Medicine student Sean Masters, president of the second-year class, provided the peer welcome.

"Sure, our classes will engage in some competitions, whether it be fundraising efforts for charities or intramural sports," Masters, who is from Ann Arbor, said. "But at the end of the day, we are all one large family."

Frank Furnari of DeWitt was among the final group to be cloaked, which allowed his older brother, Jack – a member of the inaugural class of 2013 – to be on stage and help him into his white coat. It was a break in the usual protocol of faculty members cloaking students, but done because Jack was diagnosed with a brain tumor in April.

Furnari.jpgThe brothers, always close, have been inseparable since the diagnosis with Frank frequently driving Jack to treatments. Jack Furnari expects to resume his third-year studies soon.

"My first thought after surgery, my first thought after cancer was, 'What do you want to do next?'" Jack Furnari said. "'What's on your bucket list?' My bucket list is to continue with medicine. I love this."

Frank Furnari said he focused on being admitted to the CMU College of Medicine because of his brother.

"My brother, he loves this place," Frank Furnari said. "The family environment, the small classes, the chance to change a (new) school. I could see how much this place helped him grow, and I wanted to experience the same thing."

Zahra Hussain, part of the inaugural class, returned from her third-year clinical rotations in Detroit to watch younger brother Waris wear a white coat for the first time. The siblings from Port Huron are close and both majored in physiology at Alma College before heading to medical school.

"Zahra, she would study a lot, but she said what she was learning really helped prepare her," Waris Hussain said. "When I came for the second look and came for the interview, I realized the people are very kind. Everybody's working together to achieve the same goal."

College of Medicine students spend their first two years of study on CMU's main campus in a state-of-the-art 60,000-square-foot-facility. A $25 million, 46,000-square-foot College of Medicine educational facility was recently completed in Saginaw to educate third- and fourth-year medical students and residents.

The inaugural class of 64 College of Medicine students started in August 2013 and started third-year studies July 6. Half of the class began with 24-week community clerkships in primary care at one of 12 sites around the state. The other half started performing hospital-based clinical rotations at affiliated hospitals, including Covenant HealthCare, St. Mary's of Michigan in Saginaw and St. John Providence in Detroit.

The CMU College of Medicine was established in 2009 to address an anticipated shortage of 4,000 to 6,000 physicians in Michigan by 2020. 

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