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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

New class of UW medical students awarded stethoscopes in annual tradition

By Amanda Sullender The Spokesman-Review

About to begin medical school at the University of Washington, 61 students were presented Thursday with a stethoscope by faculty and alumni.

Essential to any doctor, the first-year students will use the stethoscope throughout their four years of medical school and could go on to use them in their careers as physicians serving Eastern Washington.

“We want them to stay here and serve our communities,” University of Washington Chief of Medical Education Darryl Potyk told the Spokesman-Review. “That has always been our goal because we know the doctors we train will be taking care of us and our loved ones.”

Medical student Blake Marble said that local focus was what drew him to the University of Washington’s med school, located in Spokane.

“Working as an EMT in a rural area really made me fall in love with this region and the state specifically,” Marble said. “So I wanted to go to a medical school that has a strong goal of improving health care within the state.”

After completing medical school, the 25-year-old hopes to take his young family “back to the forest” and serve rural Washingtonians who may otherwise go without medical care.

Many of the alumni at the ceremony stressed to the new students they are no longer in competition with one another – trying to ensure they get into the best medical school. Instead, they now need to come together as a team and support one another in what will be a stressful time of their lives.

Assistant Dean for Rural Programs John McCarthy likened the group mentality of first year medical students to a platoon bonding with one another amid the difficulties of combat.

“I remember 37 years ago walking on campus and thinking, ‘What the hell am I doing here?’ ” he told them. “But you have what it takes to be successful here. Remember that.”

Newly sworn in with her stethoscope, first-year student Pearl Griffiths acknowledged to being “incredibly nervous” at the prospect of medical school but happy that she is “in the same boat” as her classmates.

“We’re all here together for a common goal,” she said. “We’re not competing anymore, which is beautiful.”

Griffiths took three years off after her undergraduate education before pursuing medical school. Even though she always intended to become a doctor, it was not until her time as a Certified Nurse Assistant where she found purpose in her career aspirations.

“Having that time away from school really allowed me to develop those relationships with residents and patients that really cemented how I can help people and how I want to help people,” Griffiths said. “That is through medicine and being that knowledge and resource for other people.”