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OHSU to honor more than 1,200 new medical professionals, educators and researchers during 2017 commencement ceremonies

2016 Commencement
Graduates from the 2016 OHSU School of Medicine pose for a photo, June 10, 2016. (OHSU)

A diverse new generation of health care professionals, educators and researchers are graduating from OSHU this month. Commencement ceremonies begin Saturday and will continue throughout the month; a total of 1,235 degrees will be awarded.

Ceremonies for the schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing and the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health will be held Sunday, June 4, at the Oregon Convention Center. Carolyn Clancy, M.D., Deputy Under Secretary for Health, Veterans Affairs, will deliver the commencement address.

Ceremonies for the Oregon State University/OHSU College of Pharmacy and the OHSU School of Nursing campuses outside of Portland will take place June 15 - 17.

“Commencement is a special day. One of the reasons many of us choose careers in academic health care is the chance to work with students. Their energy, idealism and enthusiasm is infectious,” said OHSU President Joe Robertson, M.D., M.B.A. “As we release these new graduates into the world as skilled and committed providers, educators and research scientists, I am confident that their experiences at OHSU have well prepared them to impact the health and well-being of Oregonians.”

The OHSU School of Dentistry will award degrees to 89 graduates this year.

“The OHSU School of Dentistry has a 118-year tradition of graduating leaders in their respective fields,” said Phillip Marucha, D.M.D., Ph.D., dean, OHSU School of Dentistry. “Our graduates represent the bright future of oral health care, exhibiting compassion and impeccable clinical skills. There is no doubt that the class of 2017 will continue this long-lived tradition.”

The OHSU School of Medicine will award 519 degrees to 508 graduates, with some graduates receiving combined degrees.

“I am confident that the graduates of the class of 2017 are well-prepared to meet and conquer the challenges of the evolving landscape of medicine,” said John Hunter, M.D., interim executive vice president and dean, OHSU School of Medicine, and chief clinical officer, OHSU Healthcare. “As life-long learners, this group of exceptional individuals will ensure that the highest quality of patient care and research discovery continue, both here in the state of Oregon, as well as across the nation."

The OHSU School of Nursing will award 453 degrees and certificates.

“Whether in a classroom, a board room or at the point of care, nurses play a vital role in the health of Oregon and beyond,” said Susan Bakewell-Sachs, Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N., dean, OHSU School of Nursing. “With the knowledge and expertise necessary to lead, collaborate and adapt to the ever-changing health care environment, the newest group of nursing professionals will undoubtedly continue this important work for years to come.”

The OHSU-PSU School of Public Health will award 101 degrees.

“The graduates of the class of 2017 are entering the field of public health at a very important time of change and uncertainty,” said David Bangsberg, M.D., M.P.H., dean, OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. “With an education rich in community involvement, diversity and collaboration, these new professionals are ready to respond to the increasing demand for accessible health care and overall well-being, and will play a key role in helping to end health disparities across Oregon, Southwest Washington and beyond.”

The OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy will award degrees to 73 graduates.

“I am proud to join the faculty and staff of the College of Pharmacy in congratulating the class of 2017 on their achievements,” said Mark Zabriskie, Ph.D., dean, OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy. “Whether they choose to practice in hospital or community settings, or pursue postgraduate training or public health opportunities, these graduates are well-prepared to make significant contributions and lead efforts to improving health and wellness in the populations they serve.”

Meet some of OHSU’s 2017 graduates

Ishan Patel, M.D. – OHSU School of Medicine

OHSU School of Medicine Match Day 2017
OHSU M.D. Class of 2017 President, Ishan Patel, will pursue an internal medicine residency following graduation. His ultimate goal is to practice pulmonary critical care medicine in central Oregon. (OHSU)

Because so much time is spent caring for patients, conducting procedures and applying didactic lessons, the final year of medical school is all about “learning to learn,” said Ishan Patel, a native of Redmond, Oregon.

Patel’s path to medical school began at Oregon State University where he studied bioengineering. During the summers, he worked as an intern on a model to simulate pressure drive bleeding in the lab of Owen McCarty, Ph.D., professor and interim chair of biomedical engineering in the OHSU School of Medicine.

“There’s something very special about OHSU in that there are so many good clinicians who are also educators,” said Patel. “They are receptive to having learners around and it makes everybody a well-rounded student.”

As class president for four years, Patel helped lead numerous activities for the OHSU M.D. Class of 2017, from organizing interest group activities to planting a tree on campus in remembrance of an exceptionally influential patient.

A family-oriented individual, Patel will stay at OHSU to complete his internal medicine residency training. This will allow him to remain geographically close to family and his partner. Following residency, Patel is considering a move back to central Oregon to pursue a pulmonary critical care practice.

Asia Mitchell, Ph.D. - OHSU School of Medicine

Asia Mitchell
Asia Mitchell, Ph.D. - 2017 OHSU School of Medicine graduate. (OHSU)

Asia Mitchell’s interest in genetics began with a deeply personal childhood experience. She observed a close family member – born with a rare, genetic disorder – grow sick and eventually die from the disease. “Why?” she wanted to know.

Encouraged to follow her curiosity and interest in science, Mitchell became the first in her family to go to college, graduating from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with a degree in biochemistry. Her undergraduate thesis on the regulation of iron in genetic iron overload disorders brought her closer to understanding her cousin’s death and – importantly – all that is unknown about the genetic basis of disease.

After earning a graduate certificate in bioinformatics at the University of Pittsburgh and working at the Oregon National Primate Research Center at OHSU, Mitchell enrolled at OHSU as a doctoral student, joining the lab of Paul Spellman, Ph.D., professor of molecular and medical genetics. Her dissertation on the tumor evolution in the context of the genetic disorder Von Hippel-Lindau Syndrome honors, she says, the memory of her cousin.

Since college, Mitchell has passionately practiced outreach and mentorship as a way to give back to those who helped her achieve her own scientific journey. In Portland, she’s volunteered at local high schools, tutoring in math and science and helping young people apply for college scholarships. Most recently, she was an organizer for the Portland March for Science. After defending her dissertation this coming September, Mitchell looks forward to obtaining an industry position in data science, helping providers make data-driven health decisions.

Maria Elena Rivera, B.S. with a major in nursing -  OHSU School of Nursing

Maria Rivera
Maria Elena Rivera, B.S. with a major in nursing -  OHSU School of Nursing graduate. (OHSU)

For Maria Elena Rivera, obtaining a bachelor’s degree with a major in nursing from the OHSU School of Nursing Ashland campus represents many things: a better future for her son, whom she delivered during the very first week of her nursing program; proof of her own ability to overcome obstacles; and, perhaps most importantly, an opportunity to  give back to her community.

One of nine siblings and a first-generation college student, Rivera attended Southern Oregon University and served as the school’s Latino Student Union vice president. It was this experience, coupled with her traditional Mexican upbringing, that fueled her passion for serving the community, particularly migrant families and underserved populations.

Following graduation, Rivera will continue her education within the OHSU Family Nurse Practitioner graduate program, where she will work toward fulfilling her goal of providing health care management and prevention to diverse patients. Further, she hopes her academic accomplishments will serve as inspiration to Latino youth, particularly those that face disparity.

“I want them to know that si se puede (it is possible),” she said.

Ashley Thomas, M.P.H. – OHSU-PSU School of Public Health

Ashley Thomas
Ashley Thomas, M.P.H. – OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. (OHSU)

Ashley Thomas grew up in the small Hawaiian town of Kailua-Kona. In her culture, family is important, and she and her five brothers grew up following their kuleana, or a sacred responsibility to care for, protect and help one another.

Throughout the years, Thomas realized that her “family” stretched far beyond the walls of her home. Instead, it encompassed all of the people in her community. This upbringing prepared her for the field of public health service.

A first-generation college student, Thomas obtained her undergraduate degree in interdisciplinary studies, with a focus on health promotion and natural science, from Western Oregon University. During that journey, she was accepted into a federal TRiO program, which provides support services for minority students, and was awarded a coveted Kamehameha scholarship, which helps to improve the capability and well-being of Native Hawaiians.

As a student at the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health, she worked with the Oregon Prevention Research Center on a number of projects with American Indian and Alaska Native peoples. Here, she was introduced to health disparities research, and became more aware of health disparities and social determinants of health among her own native people.

“Native Hawaiians have the shortest life expectancy and have higher mortality rates of heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes when compared to the total population. These poor health outcomes are directly linked to socioeconomic factors,” she said. This motivated her to use her earned skills to fulfill her kuleana.

Following graduation, Thomas hopes to work as an epidemiologist focusing on maternal child health and women’s reproductive health issues. 

Victoria Li
Victoria Li, Pharm.D. – OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy graduate. (OHSU)

Victoria Li, Pharm.D. – OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy

Portland native Victoria Li always knew that she wanted to pursue health care. Inspired by her aunt, also a pharmacist, Li learned of the impact pharmacists can have on a patients’ care and was immediately drawn to the idea of helping people learn how to correctly, and safely, take their medication.

Li graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Portland with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry: biochemistry, a minor in biology, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy. These accomplishments revealed a personal determination to push herself to attempt what others would not try. It was this confidence that led her to pursue pediatric pharmacy and “being a hero for kids.”

Li, along with several of her fellow classmates, recently returned from a medical mission in Nigeria, Team Africa Mission International, to provide free medical outreach. Following graduation, she will begin residency at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, with the goal to build clinical acumen in a wider variety of pediatric settings. Li hopes building her skills in this specialized field will enable her to empower future students to practice in this unique discipline.

OHSU 2017 Degree Data

OHSU School of Dentistry – 89 total degrees

Doctor of Dental Medicine – 72
Advanced specialty certificates – 10
Master of Science – 7

OHSU School of Medicine – 519 total degrees                              

Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) – 136*
Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) – 55

  • Behavioral Neuroscience – 3
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology – 3
  • Biomedical Engineering – 6
  • Biomedical Informatics – 2
  • Cancer Biology – 10
  • Cell & Developmental Biology – 3
  • Environmental Science and Engineering – 4
  • Medical Physics - 1
  • Microbiology – 5
  • Molecular and Medical Genetics – 1
  • Neuroscience – 13
  • Physiology/Pharmacology - 4

Master’s degrees – 177

  • Master of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (EBS) - 13
  • Master of Science in Biomedical Informatics – 9
  • Master of Science in Medical Physics - 3
  • Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition - 7
  • Master of Science in Computer Science and Engineering - 1
  • Master of Science in Environmental Science and Engineering - 3
  • Master of Science in Healthcare Management - 22
  • Master of Biomedical Informatics - 20
  • Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Healthcare Management - 34
  • Master of Clinical Dietetics - 2
  • Master of Clinical Research - 21
  • Master of Physician Assistant Studies (MPAS) - 42

Combined degrees - 11

  • Doctor of Medicine and Master of Public Health (M.D./M.P.H.) - 7
  • Doctor of Medicine and Doctor of Philosophy (M.D./Ph.D.) – 4

Associate’s degrees - 22

  • Associate of Applied Science - Emergency Medical Technology - Paramedic - 22

Bachelor’s degrees - 53

  • Medical Laboratory Science - 46
  • Radiation Therapy - 7

Graduate certificates - 76

  • Biomedical Informatics - 19
  • Dietetic Internship - 11
  • Healthcare Management - 26
  • Human Investigation - 20

*includes combined degrees

OHSU School of Nursing – 453 total degrees

Bachelor of Science – 347
Doctoral degrees - 31

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice - 27
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Nursing - 4

Master’s degrees - 73

  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care -  8
  • Family Nurse Practitioner – 13
  • Health Systems & Organizational Leadership - 9
  • Nurse Anesthesia - 11
  • Nurse Midwifery - 11
  • Nursing Education - 7
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner - 7
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner – 7

Post-Master Certificate - 2

OHSU-PSU School of Public Health – 101 total degrees

Certificate in Public Health - 1

Master of Public Health - 88

  • Biostatistics - 3
  • Environmental Systems & Human Health - 5
  • Epidemiology – 21
  • Health Management and Policy – 26
  • Health Promotion - 20
  • Primary Health Care and Health Disparity - 13

Master of Science - 11

  • Biostatistics – 6
  • Health Studies – 5

Doctor of Philosophy

  • Health Systems and Policy - 1

OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy – 73 total degrees

OHSU Graduation ceremony details

A convocation ceremony for all schools will take place at 1 p.m., Sunday, June 4, 2017, at the Oregon Convention Center (Exhibit Halls C and D) located in downtown Portland, Oregon.

Shortly following the ceremony, graduates of the schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing and the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health will move to their individual school hooding ceremonies - also at the convention center - to be recognized for their academic achievements. OHSU administration will host receptions for all graduates, faculty, family and friends, following the ceremonies.

Hooding ceremonies for the OSU/OHSU College of Pharmacy will take place at 1 p.m. on Friday, June 16, at the LaSells Stewart Center, Austin Auditorium, in Corvallis, Oregon. Additional details are available via the College of Pharmacy website.

Ceremonies for OHSU School of Nursing campuses in Ashland, Klamath Falls, La Grande and Monmouth will take place June 15 and 16. Information for these campuses is available via the School of Nursing website.

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