Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine Celebrates Inaugural Graduating Class

by savoystaff

The Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine (KPSOM) graduated its inaugural class of students yesterday, a milestone for the new school, which opened in July 2020. The first-ever commencement ceremony honored the Class of 2024 at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, surrounded by faculty, staff, family and guests. Two-time NBA Hall of Famer, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, was the guest commencement speaker.

Two-time NBA Hall of Famer, entrepreneur and philanthropist, Earvin “Magic” Johnson, speaks to the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine Class of 2024 as the guest commencement speaker.

With a vision to change medicine for the better, KPSOM is one of the newest medical schools in the country, offering forward-thinking medical education for future physicians by integrating a reimagined curriculum, cutting-edge technology and the latest pedagogical innovations in medical education. Named after the late Bernard J. Tyson—former Kaiser Permanente chairman and CEO—the school is committed to promoting diversity in medical education and the health profession, achieving health equity for all and eliminating health disparities wherever they exist.

In the first year of residency placements, the school confirmed 100 percent of graduating students matched to an impressive list of residency programs where they will begin their careers. The students’ most matched programs include Internal Medicine, Emergency Medicine, and Family Medicine.

“Four years ago, we set out to provide a world-class medical education as we welcomed our first class of students,” said Mark Schuster, MD, PhD, KPSOM Founding Dean and CEO. “These students took a chance on a brand-new school, started their medical education journey during the early pandemic, and spent their time not only learning, but also making important contributions to clinical care, medical scholarship, and our school’s growth. I am filled with pride as I reflect upon their achievements and celebrate how they have developed the qualities that define the best physicians. They leave us now to enter their residencies with the knowledge and skills necessary to provide compassionate, patient-centered care while improving care quality and addressing health inequities.”

“When you represent this name [of Bernard J. Tyson], it’s not about money you make, but about making change. I want you to go out there and change the world step by step,” Johnson shared during his commencement address. “Nobody will remember you being a doctor…what they will remember is how many people you touched…Remember, that’s what you got to be about. Life is beautiful when you affect somebody else’s life in such a great way.”

While the basketball star is known for his success on the court, Johnson became a public health advocate after announcing he was HIV positive in 1991, transforming how America looked at people living with HIV. He continues to foster authentic conversations about health, serves as a voice for marginalized communities and addresses racial disparities in healthcare.

Differentiated from traditional medical education models, KPSOM created the first standalone medical school Department of Health System Science, with the core curriculum emphasizing a holistic view of health, integrating biomedical science, clinical science, and health systems science (HSS) with a focus on case-based, interactive, small-group learning. The school offers a multimodal anatomy program utilizing cutting-edge technology and anatomical structures preserved by plastination in the innovative Anatomy Resource Center (ARC) providing students the opportunity to practice anatomy studies throughout their four-year studies. Students at KPSOM also begin clinical training within the first three weeks of their medical journey instead of during the second year in traditional medical school programs. KPSOM also has a comprehensive community engagement program through the service-learning curriculum, assigning students to a regional Federally Qualified Health Center, providing a nonclinical course setting to learn from healthcare professionals and community members to further prepare students for their role as future patient advocates.

“This is an incredible moment for our students and school,” said Lindia Willies-Jacobo, MD, FAAP, senior associate dean for admissions and equity, inclusion, and diversity at Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine. “This group of students, faculty and staff came together with a shared mission and purpose centered on medical education that ignites a passion for learning, a desire to serve and a commitment to improve the health and well-being of patients and their communities. Today we celebrate them as they start the next chapter as physicians.”

“I am excited to start my specialty-specific training and am sad to see my time in medical school come to a close,” said KPSOM student commencement speaker Lucas Saporito. “I embrace the challenges ahead of me and … am proud of all my classmates who will be doing fabulous things across the country. I am honored to be speaking on behalf of my classmates at graduation and I know I can’t possibly do our journey and trajectory justice in the five minutes I have to speak. Even with these differing emotions and uncertainty, I have faith in God and what is to come. Each of us has been given a unique opportunity to leverage our strengths for the good of others, and I know we have the skills to take advantage of this opportunity. For that I am very thankful.”

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