VP&S Class of 2026 Celebrates Transition to Clinical Education

Second-year medical students in the Class of 2026 at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons celebrated their transition from classroom-based instruction to clinical education with the Steven Z. Miller Student Clinician’s Ceremony on Jan. 5.

The ceremony marks the beginning of the students’ Major Clinical Year, a series of rotations through hospital and ambulatory settings at Columbia University Irving Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian and affiliated hospitals.

In his remarks as the clinical faculty speaker at the event, Said Saab, MD, MED, assistant professor of obstetrics & gynecology, encouraged the students to keep an open mind as they embark on their clinical rotations.

“Remember the enthusiasm and the fire you feel right now—use it to thrive on the wards and reflect back on it when things become difficult and challenging,” Saab said. “You might be feeling internal or external pressure to choose a specialty, but I encourage you to keep an open mind and be open to new experiences. If you remain open to exploring, or if you’ve decided and look for the relevant threads in every block, that curiosity will propel you forward.”

At the ceremony, members of the Class of 2026 shared their class video, “Med Island,” a parody of the reality television show “Love Island,” and read their class oath, which states their values and affirms their commitment to medicine and duty to their patients and communities.

Students in the Class of 2026 shared their class video, “Med Island,” a parody of the reality television show “Love Island.”

Benjamin Lebwohl, MD, associate professor of medicine and epidemiology, who was the faculty pre-clinical speaker at the event, emphasized the critical role that MCY students have in patient care.

“MCY reaffirmed my faith in pursuing a career in medicine,” said Lebwohl. “You’ll be the interpreter between the physician and the patient, and your role is central to the team and to our hospital. There are times when a team doesn’t have an MCY student and it diminishes us. As you navigate this year and learn to take care of patients, take care of each other. When MCY students have each other’s backs, it helps the whole team.”

The ceremony also honored those who have made special contributions to the medical students’ training, recognizing outstanding clinical and classroom teaching by residents and faculty members and acknowledging humanism in patient care from non-physicians who have inspired the students. The awards are given by the class making the transition into patient-centered education and by the class that just finished its Major Clinical Year.

Major Clinical Year Outstanding Teaching Award

Christopher K. Migliore, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine

Fundamentals Outstanding Teaching Award

Kerry Anne Esquitin, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine

Arnold P. Gold Foundation’s Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Awards

  • Jeffrey Arace, MD, PGY-3, Department of Medicine
  • Evan Hess, MD, PGY-4, Department of Neurology
  • Pallavi Juneja, MD, PGY-3, Department of Neurology
  • Amanda Simard, MD, PGY-2, Department of Pediatrics
  • Alexander S. Thomas, MD, PGY-5, Department of Surgery
  • Katherine Yoh, MD, PGY-3, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology

Outstanding Humanism in Patient Care Awards

  • Pamela E. Estevez-Rivera, PA-C, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, NewYork-Presbyterian
  • Robin Eure, RN, Department of Medicine, NewYork-Presbyterian
  • Daniella Kehoe, LMSW, Rockland County Psychiatric Center
  • Cindy Nguyen, PA-C, Department of Surgery, NewYork-Presbyterian

The ceremony is named for the late Steven Z. Miller, MD’84, who founded the first transition ceremony at VP&S in 1998. Miller was the Arnold P. Gold Associate Professor of Pediatrics at VP&S and a national leader in humanism in medicine.

In addition to the ceremony on Jan. 5, many of the students attended an evening reception on Jan. 4 hosted by the Academy of Clinical Excellence and the Office of Student Affairs. Speakers at the reception performed a Moth-style storytelling exercise, moderated by Nancy Chang, MD, associate professor of medicine, and Michael Argenziano, MD, the Calvin F. Barber Professor of Surgery, who was also a storyteller. Other featured storytellers were Sara Nash, MD, associate professor of psychiatry; Usha Krishnan, MD, professor of pediatrics; Mathew Maurer, MD, the Arnold and Arlene Goldstein Professor of Cardiology (in Medicine); Andrew Eisenberger, MD, associate professor of medicine; Philip Muskin, MD, professor of psychiatry; Elizabeth Murphy-Fitelson, MD, associate professor of psychiatry; Jeffrey Zitsman, MD, professor of surgery; and Carolyn Britton, MD, professor of neurology.