With eagerness and high energy, Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis welcomed this week 124 future physicians to the start of their careers in science and medicine.
In addition to getting students acclimated to the Medical Campus, orientation for the medical school’s Entering Class of 2023 emphasized professional identity as well as personal health and wellness through activities such as mindfulness, coaching sessions with faculty mentors and therapeutic horticulture at the Missouri Botanical Garden.
“As a student just beginning my medical career, I am excited by the prospect of exploring not only what I know I am interested in, but also the things I may never have imagined,” said Matthew Saenz, a Southern California native who selected Washington University, in part, because of the new curriculum.
Launched in 2020, the Gateway Curriculum is the first overhaul of the school’s educational program in more than two decades. The curriculum emphasizes professional identity, mentorship, health equity, community engagement, early clinical immersion, and career development in academic medicine.
“Our incoming class of medical students is one of the most selective yet,” said Valerie S. Ratts, MD, associate dean for admissions and a professor of obstetrics & gynecology. “The class is made up of diverse, highly talented, intellectually curious, thoughtful, creative and community-minded people with incredible academic and personal qualifications. They all have demonstrated a strong desire to help others.”
Among the characteristics of the Entering Class of 2023:
- Of the 124 students, half are women.
- The average student age is 24, with a range of 21 to 35 years old.
- More than one-third of the students come from groups underrepresented in medicine, including 21 Hispanic/Latino, 16 Black and one American Indian student.
- Twenty-five students hail from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, an increase of 5% from the year before.
- Twenty-two students — half women, half men — are enrolled in the Medical Scientist Training Program to earn combined MD/PhD degrees.
- Students come from 31 states, including 15 from California; 10 from Florida; eight each from New York and Illinois; seven each from Massachusetts and Missouri; five each from Texas and New Jersey; and four each from Georgia, Maryland and Virginia.
- Twelve students come from abroad. They hail from China, Canada, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Morocco, Singapore, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
“Our goal is to provide support and guidance as you each find your own path, to help you identify and nurture your unique gifts and passions so that you can best use them to make this world a better place,” Colleen Wallace, MD, assistant dean of student affairs and an associate professor of pediatrics, told the students during their first day of orientation week.
“I am so honored by the opportunity to accompany you on this exciting journey and look forward to getting to know each of you over the next four or more years,” she said. “Thank you so much for choosing to be here with us and for sharing yourselves with our community. It is already a better place because you are part of it.”