University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine graduates 64 new doctors in first-ever hybrid hooding ceremony

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UNR Med Class of 2021 graduating medical students received their academic hoods in advance of the ceremony and photographed their hooding moments. UNR Med edited the photos together to be played and viewed by all of the graduates, their families and loved ones during the hybrid hooding ceremony. From left to right are graduating medical students, Irvin V. Ma, Jaclyn Riana Cerceo and Nathan Matthew Escorial representing the UNR Med Class of 2021. Photo by Brin Reynolds, UNR Med.

The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine (UNR Med) hosted its first-ever hybrid (in-person and virtual) hooding ceremony, conferring Doctor of Medicine (MD) degrees to 64 fourth-year medical students of the Class of 2021, graduating as northern Nevada's newest physicians. The live-streamed virtual ceremony is now available for on-demand viewing on UNR Med's YouTube channel.

UNR Med has received approval from the University to hold an in-person commencement event for graduating medical students under current covid-19 health and safety guidelines.

With graduating medical students stepping into their roles at a most vital time, UNR Med Dean, Thomas L. Schwenk, M.D., spoke about the challenges facing today's medical school graduates as a result of the pandemic, thanked students for their dedication, and encouraged them as they take the next step in their careers as physicians.  

"On your first day of medical school, none of us could have imagined how unusual your last year of medical school would become," said Schwenk. "Many of you agreed to step up to the front lines and join the community response to COVID-19. Your commitment to this cause, especially your skills, capacity to adapt, and your compassion have helped care for our community during a time when they have needed you the most," he said.  

Despite the unconventional nature of the ceremony, graduating medical student and Class of 2021 President Tyler Allen said the virtual ceremony was the next best thing to being at a traditional in-person ceremony.  

"It's not the medical school graduation day I expected, but UNR Med did a really nice job making it special," Allen said. "The hybrid in-person and virtual ceremony achieved all of the same goals that our original graduation would have, in terms of honoring all of us who are graduating. I missed having more of my loved ones being there with me in-person, but I had my immediate family in attendance with me, and many other loved ones had front row seats watching the virtual broadcast, from home. Hope and optimism for the future are my biggest emotions, today. Today is one of my proudest moments and I am excited to see what the future has in store for me."

The hooding ceremony marks the completion of undergraduate medical education for medical students, who now enter residency training. The hooding ceremony, symbolic of passing the guard from one generation of doctors to the next, recognizes those graduating students with MD degrees.  

The students received their academic hoods in advance of the live-streamed ceremony and each student was pre-recorded being hooded, while UNR Med edited the videos together to be played and viewed by all of the graduates, their families and loved ones. Graduates recited the Physician's Oath virtually, in real-time, affirming their commitment to the medical profession. With the oath, graduates acknowledged the high standards of performance and ethical behavior to which each physician aspires at every stage of their professional career.  

This year's commencement speaker was David J. Skorton, M.D., president and chief executive officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). Dr. Skorton began his leadership of the AAMC in July 2019 after a distinguished career in government, higher education, and medicine.  

Skorton spoke to graduates in a pre-recorded message on how the promotion of diversity in the medical workforce will contribute to better health equity and care, as well as during the COVID-19 pandemic climate. He spoke of the new challenges these new doctors will face, and offered advice for the universal implications in their future residency training.  

"You are an inspiration because you are the best kind of over-achievers - those with a profound sense of service and a deep commitment to eradicating inequities in health care," said Skorton.   

"The pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on people of color, those with few resources and those with no or inadequate health insurance," Skorton said to the graduates. "It places special importance on your dedication to address health inequities. We are enormously proud of each and every one of you and are confident that you'll make a huge difference in the lives of your patients and communities."  

With the demand for primary physicians growing faster than supply, UNR Med continues to address this gap with 23% of this year's graduating class entering into primary care residency programs, which includes family medicine, internal medicine, internal medicine/pediatrics, pediatrics and obstetrics/gynecology. Approximately 14% of UNR Med students are staying in Nevada for some part of their residency training.  

"UNR Med is dedicated to increasing the number of physicians in Nevada by educating more medical students, retaining them as residents and ultimately as practicing physicians," Schwenk said. "We're thrilled that 14 students have matched in northern Nevada and throughout the state for some portion of their training. The fact that students want to complete their medical training in Nevada supports our goal of training physicians who recognize the health care needs in our communities and are committed to staying or returning to Nevada. This is a major component of our community-based and community-engaged curriculum model."   

Residency training location is a strong indication of where physicians will likely set up their medical practices following completion of residency and has major implications for the future availability of health care professionals in a given area. This year, 100% of UNR Med residency vacancies were filled, which includes all 53 residency positions throughout internal medicine, family medicine, psychiatry, geriatrics, hospice and palliative medicine, child and adolescent psychology and sports medicine.   

Residency programs and specialties of the Class of 2021 are posted online at  

Graduating medical student Mariah Turcotte said she couldn't be more excited to begin her medical career in Reno. "I chose to stay in Reno because the faculty at UNR Med has always gone above and beyond to provide a phenomenal medical education. I feel privileged to have the opportunity to stay in Reno and continue serving this community that means so much to me, during my family medicine residency," said Turcotte.

Established in 1969, Nevada's first public medical school has educated more than 3,500 students, residents and fellows.  

Physician Assistant Studies Program and Speech Pathology and Audiology graduates will be included in the University of Nevada, Reno Spring Commencement event tomorrow, on Saturday, May 15 at 9 a.m. at Mackay Stadium.  

PA Studies Program students will complete the program on July 30, but will have the option to "walk" early in the May 15 commencement event. A PA Studies Program master's hooding ceremony for the Class of 2021 will be held near the end of July for the 23 PA Studies Program graduates.  

As a result of the COVID pandemic and postponement of the University's commencement last spring, the Speech Pathology and Audiology Class of 2020 will graduate 70 bachelors and 19 masters of science graduates; and the Speech Pathology and Audiology Class of 2021 will graduate 49 bachelors and 21 masters of science graduates in the May 15 spring commencement event.  

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The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, Nevada's first public medical school, is a community-based, research-intensive medical school with a statewide vision for a healthy Nevada. Established in 1969, UNR Med is improving the health and well-being of all Nevadans and their communities through excellence in student education, postgraduate training and clinical care, research with local, national and global impact and a culture of diversity and inclusion.

Released: Friday May 14, 2021 @ 2:00 PM