Michele Sasmor has added a medical degree to her degree as a registered nurse but hasn't changed careers - she's still a medical professional.
The registered nurse officially became a medical doctor Saturday along with 100 other students who graduated from the University of Utah School of Medicine.Doctor of medicine degrees were awarded to 75 men and 25 women during the ceremony in Kingsbury Hall. In addition, the school conferred degrees in the basic sciences, including 10 doctorates, one master of arts, 38 masters of science, one master of statistics, and three bachelor of sciences degrees in medical laboratory sciences.
Members of the Class of '88 were admitted to the school four long years ago. By that time, Sasmor had already dedicated 10 years to nursing - a field she entered because "I had to have something I could do to earn a living. I knew there would always be jobs for nurses somewhere."
But the former intensive care nurse, who worked her way through medical school as a flight nurse with Airmed, was frustrated with her "limitations."
"I felt that I could do just as good a job as the physicians I was working with if I had more education," she said. "It was at that point that I decided to commit to four more years of hard education."
That's four years for starters.
The 36-year-old physician has a one-year internship to complete and a four-year residency before entering the work force as a general surgeon.
Out of the 100 graduates - who had an overall grade-point average of 3.63 on admission - 17 will enter some form of surgery, but the largest number, 21, plan careers in internal medicine.
Thirteen, like Sasmor, will enter a transitional internship preparatory to a more advanced specialty - psychiatry will have 12 graduates; family practice, 10; pediatrics, 10; obstetrics and gynecology, four; ophthalmology, three, and emergency medicine, three. Six graduates will enter the field of anesthesiology, three plan careers in physical medicine and rehabilitation and one in diagnostic radiology.
Each of the young students (their average age is around 27) completed the grueling medical education, while trying to balance private lives. Fifty-eight class members are married, including one married couple within the class and one couple to be married soon. These young doctors have, at last count, 74 children among them, 50 of whom were born during medical school.
That's not all they have in common.
"You graduates enter medical practice full of more facts than any of your predecessors had," said U. President Chase N. Peterson who, with Dr. John A. Dixon, addressed the graduating class. Dixon is one of the world's foremost laser surgery experts and a longtime U. faculty member.
Dr. Cecil O. Samuelson, dean of the medical school, and Dr. Anthony W. Middleton Jr., president of the Utah Medical Association also participated in the ceremonies. Like Dixon, their remarks centered on the rising costs of medical malpractice insurance and how it could affect the graduates' futures.
"There is also more uncertainty about the nature of medical practice and research. You have been better trained to cure disease than to prevent or manage it," Peterson stressed.
Because of these circumstances, the president asked, what are you do to?
"In view of all you know, be acutely aware of what you don't know and be willing to admit it to yourself and your patients."
Peterson admonished the graduates that above all to consider the possibility that "you will not be a better practitioner of medicine than you are a human being.
"Figure out what you can learn from every encounter you have in both the field of medicine and the larger field of general living," he advised. "As you learn something from your patients, you will find yourself less depleted by the great outpouring of energy required by them."