Incoming UW School of Medicine students start journey virtually

This class will be the first to start during the COVID-19 pandemic
Published: Aug. 21, 2020 at 5:47 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - With the COVID-19 pandemic still very much affecting everyday life, future doctors also enter their field during unprecedented times.

On Friday afternoon, the UW School of Medicine and Public Health welcomed students for their White Coat Ceremony virtually, as this class will be the first to start their journey during the COVID-19 pandemic. The event, typically held with friends and family in-person, signifies students’ entry into the profession.

Incoming student Leah Gruen is one of about 175 classmates, pursuing their dream to be in the health profession. The Chicago native and physics major turned her interest to medicine after volunteering at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York.

“That really switched the gears for me, so I decided to go back to school to pursue medicine,” she said.

This was all prior to the pandemic, which she said only encouraged her further to pursue the profession.

“I think, if anything, it is just emphasizing that we need more doctors who are equipped to deal with this kind of public health crisis,” Gruen said.

UW Health’s chief quality officer, Dr. Jeff Pothof, has been in these students shoes. The UW School of Medicine graduate and local leader of the COVID-19 response said if there is a time to go into medicine, it is now.

“I think clearly the focus of the entire world is on a biological threat, and I think that then shines an additional light on those who commit themselves to the medical field,” Pothof said.

In a year that has been nothing but unconventional, Gruen said she is focused on getting to work and figuring out what specialty she will pursue.

You can watch the White Coat Ceremony HERE.

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