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Special ceremony marks next step for Kenyan medical students

Jan. 30, 2014

Each year, students at the Moi University School of Medicine in Eldoret, Kenya -- the partner of the IU School of Medicine in the Academic Model Providing Access to Healthcare, or AMPATH -- participate in a special ceremony before entering their first year of clinical experience.

The 2014 Stethoscope Ceremony took place Jan. 22 at Moi University, during which students had their first stethoscope placed across their necks and joined in a recitation of the "Medicine Class Oath," a solemn promise to act ethically and compassionately as they begin caring for patients.

The ceremony is similar in many ways to the White Coat Ceremony, a North American tradition that marks the start of medical school graduates’ professional lives as physicians.

This year, HIV researcher and pediatrician Rachel Vreeman, M.D., an assistant professor at the IU School of Medicine, was present to capture the event for the IU School of Medicine community, and others who follow her prolific blog, "Dr. V. Goes Over the Sea."

"It's really a lovely tradition in the training of Kenya’s next generation of physicians that all of the medical students are given their first stethoscope in a ceremony before they begin their clinical rotations," said Dr. Vreeman, who divides her clinical practice between Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health and the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kenya. "The ceremony is a special milestone for the students, as they have their names read, receive their stethoscopes and shake hands with the principal in congratulations, and recite together their medical vows."

The principal of the College of Health Sciences at Moi University is Fabian Esamai, Ph.D., also a professor of child health and pediatrics at the university's school of medicine. The primary representative of the Moi University School of Medicine at the ceremony was Tenge Kuremo, M.D., a surgeon and faculty member who spoke on behalf of the dean, Paul Ayuo, who was not able to attend. Additional speakers at the event included Joe Mamlin, M.D., field director for AMPATH and professor emeritus of medicine at the IU School of Medicine, and his wife, Sarah Ellen Mamlin, associate program manager for the Sally Test Pediatric Centre at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.

The Stethoscope Ceremony is supported through an endowment created by IUSM faculty member Angenieta Biegel, M.D., who died in 2008. An immunologist, microbiologist and internal medicine physician, Dr. Biegel created the tradition of collecting stethoscopes for students as they prepare to meet their first patients more than 15 years ago.

The ceremony is currently organized by Talmage Bosin, M.D., and Betsy Bosin, who manage the Mwangaza Scholarship Program, which enables Kenyan students from poor backgrounds to pursue medical degrees. Dr. Bosin, a retired IU professor, also teaches pharmacology at the Moi University School of Medicine.

"I have used Stan's gift for all of these years," said Dr. Mamlin during the ceremony, showing the audience a stethoscope given to him by a family friend after being accepted to medical school in 1958. "You will use Angie's stethoscope."

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