VP&S Class of 2023 Begins Major Clinical Year in Ongoing Pandemic

On Jan. 7, 142 second-year medical students in the Class of 2023 at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons celebrated their transition to patient-centered training. The transition was marked at the Steven Z. Miller Student Clinician’s Ceremony, which was held virtually for the first time as the COVID pandemic continues. For these students, clinical rotations will be the same as in previous years, with the addition of an emergency medicine clerkship for all students.

“After months of mostly remote learning and the devastating impact of the COVID pandemic on our community, city, and country, the students are especially eager to begin their Major Clinical Year and contribute to the care of patients,” said Lisa Mellman, MD, interim co-vice dean for education and senior associate dean for student affairs at VP&S. 

Since 1998, the ceremony has marked the move of medical students from classroom education into hospital and ambulatory settings, including NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.  

"You're already becoming the physician you're going to be," said William Fuller, MD, assistant professor of medicine at CUMC, who gave remarks to students from the clinical faculty during the ceremony. "Make it someone you're proud of. That's your mission."

During the ceremony each year, awards are given by the class making the transition into patient-centered education and by the class that just finished its Major Clinical Year.

The Class of 2023 awarded the Greg Grove Award to Erika K. Mitsui. The award is given to a student who is generative and well-liked, has contributed to the school’s community and fellow students, and enjoys the outdoors, reading, and music. Mitsui is a violinist and co-leader of the medical school’s Musicians’ Guild, which moved its live Musical Monday performances online during the pandemic to bring comfort to the Columbia community.  

The Class of 2023 honored its teachers by giving Rachel J. Gordon, MD, MPH, associate professor of medicine and epidemiology at CUMC, the Fundamentals Outstanding Teacher Award, which recognizes classroom teaching. 

The Class of 2022, which just completed its Major Clinical Year, presented Alyssa Bautista, MD, assistant professor of neurology at CUMC, its Major Clinical Year Outstanding Teacher Award. The class also honored several hospital staff and faculty:

  • Resident Teaching Awards were presented to Elena Donald, MD (medicine, NYP); Samantha Greissman, MD (medicine, NYP); Alexandra Sansosti, MD (surgery, NYP); Sarah Sherwood, MD (medicine, NYP); Anna Staniczeko, MD (obstetrics & gynecology, NYP); and Ben Wooden, MD (medicine, NYP).
  • Clinician Awards, for non-physician members of the health care team who are integral to the medical student experience, were presented to Gary Avery, LPN (Optimus Medicine Clinic); Stephen Doobin, LCSW (New York State Psychiatric Institute); Eswari Jeyabalan, RN, BSN, CCRN (NYP); and Michelle Nowlan, BSN, RN, CHSE (Bassett Medical Center).

Steven Z. Miller, MD'84

The ceremony has special meaning for the medical school community. The late Steven Z. Miller, MD’84, founded the first transition ceremony at VP&S. Miller was the Arnold P. Gold Associate Professor of Pediatrics at VP&S and a national leader in humanism in medicine; he died in a plane crash in 2004.