Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) hosted its first graduation for the National Capital Consortium at The Strathmore Music Center in Bethesda, Md., on Friday.
More than 300 interns, residents and fellows from approximately 70 medical, dental and health-related training programs at WRNMMC, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Malcolm Grow Medical Center and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital, received certificates and were honored during the ceremony.
Although the health education programs of the uniformed services in the National Capital Region have been combined for more than 17 years, WRNMMC Commander, Rear Adm. Alton L. Stocks, explained the commencement was the first for the newly-established Walter Reed Bethesda, formed when the former Walter Reed Army Medical Center and former National Naval Medical Center integrated on Aug. 28, 2011.
"We are proud the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center is the largest military medical center in the nation, and also proud to call ourselves 'the place where we heal our nation's heroes," Stocks continued.
He added WRNMMC's influence extends globally, and the graduates will take that legacy with them as they go to assignments "from Okinawa to England, Korea and Afghanistan, and throughout the United States.”
"These graduates are prepared to practice medicine in any environment they encounter, and the quality of these graduates and their programs are exceeded by none," said Stocks, a pediatrician. "Their combined licensing and board examination pass rates are greater than 95 percent in a nation where the average is 85 percent."
In addition to saluting the graduates, Stocks commended their families. "Your spouses, parents, children and special family friends should also be thanked for all of the support they've given you through these years."
Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., the graduation's guest speaker, added, "Your commitment to medicine and to our nation was made possible by [your families' and friends'] commitment to you, and forms a foundation for who you are today and what you will do tomorrow.”
"In addition to your family and friends, you've had the extraordinary privilege to have performed your internships, residencies and fellowships at a great medical institution with the world's best program directors and clinical faculty who have devoted themselves to your success," Harvey continued. "To them, guiding your progress in the medical arts is much more than just a job."
Harvey's message to the graduates stressed a commitment to service and duty. "It's about your service; it's about our families, and it's about our nation's challenges and how they will impact your service in the years ahead."
In regards to their service, Harvey said the graduates have taken two "very, very important oaths" the Hippocratic Oath to ethically practice medicine; and their commissioning oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic.
"Your first oath unifies you within the medical community, [and] your second oath unifies us as a military service," the admiral added.
"Neither oath is in opposition to the other," he continued. "Indeed, in the military, these two oaths act to create a powerful synergy between service to your patients and service to your nation.”
"Leadership transcends all other [military] duties, except of course for your unyielding focus on your patients," Harvey told the graduating class of medical officers. "[Leadership] is the single most important military task you will have bar none, and just like with your medical responsibilities, as an officer, you are always on duty."
The admiral told the graduates they can be successful leaders if they lead from the heart, possess good character, and are "resolute in their determination to do their duty every hour of the day to the best of their abilities. There's nothing magical about it."
He concluded by telling the officers that despite 11 years of war, "We can't grow tired of caring for those who bared the wounds of that war; the wounds that they will bare forever; the wounds that their families will face forever; the wounded that you will see throughout your careers. It is on us never to allow them to be forgotten. It is on us to be true to both your Hippocratic Oath and your Officer's Oath to do right by them and their families. For if we don't, no one else will."