Dr. Keenan, thank you for the kind introduction.
Welcome to the 2011 Hooding and Commencement Ceremony of the OHSU School of Medicine.
To our faculty members who have joined us, thank you for your commitment to excellence in education.
To the family and friends of our graduates, thank you for your support of your graduate.
Most of all, congratulations to the OHSU School of Medicine Class of 2011.
What a great day!
Today, along with offering my congratulations, I also want to share some of my family history.
This story starts during World War II in 1945 and involves my father and my mother.
During this time, my father was an engineer in the navy. And for a while, his job was to defuse bombs.
At that time, thousands of unexploded bombs littered the battle-scarred regions of the world.
The Navy asked him, and the team of engineers he worked with, to study the intricacies of a particular bomb's design and then to defuse and dismantle it – without any explosions, of course.
Some of them were very complicated designs – by intent, so they would be hard to take apart.
But taking them apart was just the first step. Then the team wrote down detailed instructions for how to replicate what they did.
The Navy sent those instructions around the world so that other engineers could destroy these dangerous weapons, and rid the European and Pacific theaters of this leftover danger from the war.
My dad's job was difficult and dangerous.
My mom and dad had an apartment just outside the Indian Head Navy Powder Factory in Maryland.
Everyone living on or near this naval base knew when the controlled explosions of that day would happen – they purposefully blew up bombs to learn more about their mechanics or just to get rid of them.
Occasionally, my mother told me, she would hear an explosion at non-unscheduled time.
On those evenings, she was so relieved when my dad walked through the door.
It was a very uncertain kind of life but my parents remember that time of personal sacrifice as one that brought them closer together.
Thankfully, my dad lived through this period and went on to have a good life and he accomplished many more great things. My brother and I have been part of that life, along with five grandchildren.
My dad was successful because he worked closely with a team and each one brought a different knowledge and expertise to bear on their dangerous challenge.
His engineering background was not acquired specifically for the task of dismantling bombs – he never expected to find himself doing this work – but it was important, life-saving work that his country and the world needed from him.
This story has become part of my family narrative and I continue to draw from its lessons.
I want share those lessons with you because I think they are relevant for the tasks that lie ahead.
First: Allow for the fact that sometimes difficult circumstances will require you to take on unexpected challenges and to sacrifice your immediate plans and goals for the benefit of your family, your friends or your community.
Try to think of these times as opportunities to learn more about yourself and your abilities, to stretch your knowledge into new places, and to form stronger bonds with those you love.
That's what my mother and father did during that era of uncertainty.
Second: you are experts. Trust your education. The fundamental knowledge that you have worked so hard to attain these past years will serve you well in whatever circumstances come your way.
And while the era that we live in now does not compare to that of World War II, our times are uncertain.
The world of health care and biomedical science is changing rapidly. The professional world you are entering is evolving at a pace that we have never seen before in history.
What you assume today may not be correct in ten years.
Not only will you be affected by the big changes coming from health care reform but the explosion – I don't mean that literally – of scientific knowledge, especially the application of genetics, will transform patient care.
But your core knowledge – whether you are receiving an MD, PhD, masters or other certificate today – will allow you to not only participate in the future, but to help create that future, to be leaders of that future.
Our faculty, many of whom are here today, have shared their knowledge with you and given you the best education possible.
Be confident in that expertise.
That brings me to the third and last lesson: Generously share your knowledge – with your patients, with your colleagues, with the world.
Collaboration is more than a buzzword; the future of health care and biomedical research hinges on collaboration.
Some of you will be part of health care teams, others will be working with a team of scientists, all of you will be relying on the tools of information technology to share new knowledge faster and farther than ever before.
My father shared his knowledge around the globe in order to save lives.
Your knowledge will save lives too. Extend it to everyone that needs and wants it.
Congratulations Class of 2011.
We will be watching you with pride.
- Mark Richardson, MD, MBA
Dean, OHSU School of Medicine
June 06, 2011 Portland, Ore.