NYITCOM at A-State Celebrates Commencement and Hooding of 115 Physicians

Dr. Hannah Darnell is hooded by Dr. Regina Fleming at the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University Class of 2023 Commencement and Hooding ceremony, which was held last Friday at the A-State Fowler Center.

Jonesboro, AR – New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) at Arkansas State University (A-State) celebrated 115 new physicians at its Commencement and Hooding Ceremony, which was held last Friday at the A-State Fowler Center.

NYITCOM’s hooding ceremonies, which serve as the medical school’s graduation, are a symbolic passing of the guard from one generation of physicians to the next. New physicians are called to the stage to receive their doctoral hoods, which are either presented by medical school faculty and leaders or family members who are also physicians.

The NYITCOM at A-State Class of 2023 arrived in Jonesboro in 2019 as the fourth class on the medical school’s Arkansas campus. Their second semester of medical school coincided with the onset of a global pandemic, which brought unprecedented challenges that also uniquely bonded the group.

“On top of learning what it means to be a doctor, we experienced tornados (yes plural), a global pandemic, virtual education, Zoom interviews, and even the search to find toilet paper in Jonesboro when it appeared to have run out,” Class President Emily Kraft, D.O., said in her address to her fellow graduates. “Throughout all of this, our class persevered, taking on each challenge as it came. We rode those waves together, whether they were crashing down or bringing us back to shore. This is one resilient group of individuals who I am proud to call my colleagues. We did not just survive, we excelled at what we did.”

Shane Speights, D.O., dean of NYITCOM at A-State, opened the ceremony by challenging the Class of 2023 to always honor the title of doctor, a highly sought after designation that they received last week following an arduous journey through medical school.

“You are about to enter into the clinical aspects of your training where you will be directly responsible for the care of a patient,” Speights said. “It’s a level of responsibility that many seek, and few have. I ask that you guard this responsibility closely, for it is not to be abused, and it is not to be taken for granted. The relationship between a doctor and a patient is one of a sacred trust, and undoubtedly one that we will all experience at some point.”

Members of the Class of 2023 will begin their medical residencies in July as they embark on the next phase of their medical education. The Class of 2023 experienced a 100 percent Match rate in the National Resident Matching Program in March, and 75 percent of the class will perform their residency in a primary care specialty.

In addition to the 115 students who received their Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree last Friday, NYITCOM honored 10 students who completed the college’s Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences degree, a program that was created in 2020.

“It is our sincere hope that you will always remember what the staff and faculty at NYITCOM have wanted for you from the very beginning,” Speights said at the conclusion of the ceremony. “We want you to be successful, attain your goals, and make a positive impact on the world around you through your gifts.”

About NYITCOM at Arkansas State University: New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University, located on A-State’s Jonesboro campus, is dedicated to improving access to health care for the underserved and rural populations in Arkansas and the Mississippi Delta Region. Arkansas annually ranks near the bottom among states in overall population health status due to low health indicators including obesity, hypertension and diabetes. The state also ranks near the bottom of states in the number of active physicians per capita and in the number of primary care physicians. NYITCOM at A-State was established in 2016 with the mission of meeting the need for more physicians in this medically underserved area.

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