From Morsani College of Medicine graduates, a dose of gratitude

Click here for USF Health Morsani College of Medicine 2012 Commencement Photo Gallery

Between the two of them, Dr. William Spellacy and Dr. Michael Flannery have taught USF medical students for a total of 45 years.

On Friday, the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine said thank you.

Friday marked graduation ceremonies for the class of 2012, the first class to exit under the banner of the newly-named Morsani College of Medicine.

But before the doctors of 2012 moved into the future, they paused to honor those who brought them here. Both Drs. Spellacy and Flannery were honored with Dean’s Awards, the highest honor bestowed by the College of Medicine.

“Both are amazing, intellectual caring physicians – think of the empathy of Marcus Welby with the intellectual capacity of House – not bad,” said Dr. Stephen Klasko, dean of the Morsani College of Medicine and CEO of USF Health. “Most importantly, they have dedicated their careers to teaching your children, our future alumni – not just the science of medicine, but the intangible aspects of being a healer that are embodied in the Hippocratic Oath that these young graduates will recite today.”

Dr. Michael Flannery tells the crowd that the College of Medicine is like family.

Graduate Dr. Ryan Buckley, who was selected by the class of 2012 to deliver the class farewell, also focused on gratitude, honoring the family and friends who helped the class arrive at graduation day.

“We wholeheartedly thank you,” Dr. Buckley said. “Not only for celebrating this incredible milestone with us, but for making sure we got here ourselves. Now, I mean that in two regards.

“One, we got here. We did it. Your baby boys and baby girls are finally doctors.

“And two, we’re ourselves. Through all the trials and challenges, we remained true to who we are, thanks to your guidance. Everything you’ve done for us throughout the years has been leading to this.”

Dr. Klasko challenged the class of 2012 to help lead the transformation of health care.

“Please don’t be satisfied with the healthcare system or your role in it. …We expect you to be the change agents for a new enlightened healthcare system,” he told them.

Dr. Klasko also gave a Dean’s Award to Dr. Frank Chervenak, chair of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medical College and a nationally recognized scholar, ethics expert, and leader in his field.

Dr. Chervenak praised the “excitement and enthusiasm” at USF Health and had kind words for its leader as well.

“You are a model, not just for this school, but for the nation and the world, of effective and ethical leadership,” he told Dr. Klasko.

Dr. Norman Gant, former long-time executive director of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, received an honorary degree Friday from the College of Medicine.

“You have chosen a profession of service to mankind,” Dr. Gant told the graduates. “There is no higher calling or responsibility.”

President Judy Genshaft and Dr. Stephen Klasko, dean of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, present an honorary degree to Dr. Norman Gant.

Dr. Klasko recognized Dr. Spellacy as “a living legend” who has helped shape the modern field of obstetrics and gynecology.

“Throughout his career, Dr. Spellacy has fought to improve access, cost and quality for women everywhere,” he said. “If you were having a baby in Tampa Bay, it didn’t matter who you were. It didn’t matter whether you were struggling though a high-risk pregnancy, hoping against hope for a healthy baby; or whether you lived in rural Florida, having a hard time finding prenatal care; or even whether you were pregnant while incarcerated in the Hillsborough County Jail.

One of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine’s newest graduates 

“No matter which of those women you were, Dr. Spellacy cared about you and your pregnancy and worked to help you have a healthier baby,” Dr. Klasko said.

Dr. Klasko’s final Dean’s Award went to Dr. Michael Flannery, longtime director of the residency program in internal medicine. Dr. Flannery was diagnosed last summer with ALS, and students and faculty have rallied to support Dr. Flannery and his family.

“We are seeing him face his future with courage and integrity,” Dr. Klasko said. “His example recently inspired many of our students, our faculty members and Dr. Flannery’s myriad number of friends to join the Walk to Defeat ALS, raising nearly $25,000.

“I could tell you more about how much Dr. Flannery means to the USF Health community, but I think the people who express that feeling best are those we celebrate here today – the students graduating in the class of 2012,” Dr. Klasko said.

The students recently gave Dr. Flannery a white coat, personalized with hand-written notes from them. Dr. Klasko went on to read the students’ notes to the audience, including this one:

‘Thank you so much for your hard work and guidance. You are truly an inspiration to all of us!’

The audience agreed. They gave Dr. Flannery a standing ovation.

- Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications

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