College of


2016 RECAP

When Wanda Lipscomb thinks about health care in America, she often sees it through the eyes of the young girl she once was, suffering with pneumonia and rushed to the only hospital in Richmond, Va., that accepted black patients.

She remembers the receptionist who snapped at her mother, telling her to sit down and wait her turn. She remembers crying out in pain from an injection that caused a severe reaction and a nurse telling her to be quiet.

But she also remembers the doctor who cradled her in his arms, calming her and assuring her she would be alright.

“When I think about health care in America, I go back to that place that I remember,” said Lipscomb, PhD, the keynote speaker at the college’s Alumni Weekend 2016. “It showed the best and the worst of health care.”

Throughout its history, the College of Human Medicine has inspired the best of health care through its commitment to diversity, dignity and public service, said Lipscomb, the College of Human Medicine’s Senior Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion. She was selected to deliver the annual Andrew D. Hunt Endowed Lectureship, an address named for the college’s founding dean, whose innovative and inclusive approach to medical education still prevails.

“From the very beginning, the college was pursuing an inclusive mission,” Lipscomb told the gathering of faculty, alumni and students. “We come from different backgrounds, but we’re all on the same team.

“We can all proudly say, ‘We’re cut from the same cloth.’”

She cited three programs that are central to the college’s pursuit of inclusiveness: Leadership in Rural Medicine, established in the 1970’s; the Advanced Baccalaureate Learning Experience (ABLE), established in the 1980’s; and Leadership in Medicine for the Underserved, established in 2004.

Diversity and public service were common themes in the annual MSURx lectures, a program similar to TED Talks, which have become an important part of the annual Alumni Weekend.

Richard Holmes, MD, (CHM ’77) spoke of his “journey and life of amazing grace.” In 1965, he became the first African American student to enroll in Mississippi State University. Much of the credit for his success, he said, goes to a family friend – he called her “grandmother” – who raised him and his siblings in Starkville, Miss.

“She taught us every day that society owed us nothing,” Holmes said. “The color of our skin, poverty and discrimination were no excuses for failure.”

In 1977, Holmes earned his medical degree from the College of Human Medicine.

Nearly three decades later, Mercy Adetoye, president of the Class of 2017, said she chose the College of Human Medicine because she “felt that diversity and inclusion were not just buzz words here.”

Born in Nigeria and raised in Colorado, Adetoye said she sometimes experienced prejudice from whites, and occasionally from African Americans who asked, “Why do you talk like you’re white?” Minorities often are treated not only as outsiders but as if they are invisible, she said.

“I absolutely believe that we can do better,” Adetoye said. “My charge for the College of Human Medicine is to make sure that some of our students are not present and invisible.”

Debra Furr-Holden, PhD, urged the students to consider a career in public health, as she did. Through research and advocacy, those who choose public health can have a positive impact on the wellbeing of large numbers of people, she said.

“I actually think that public health has the potential to solve much of the world’s problems,” said Furr-Holden, a C.S. Mott Endowed Professor of Health in the College of Human Medicine’s Public Health Division.

“The field is calling for a much broader diversity of people to join the fight,” she said. “Not only can you do great work, but you can get a sense of accomplishment.”     

Through her research into the link between maternal nutrition and the long-term health of children, Jean Kerver, PhD, is impacting the health of countless people from different ethnic backgrounds and incomes.

“Sometimes you don’t realize how comfortable you are with your own culture until you step out of it,” she said.

More than 15 percent of women of child-bearing age have worrisomely low levels of iodine, which can negatively affect the cognitive development of their children, said Kerver, an assistant professor in the departments of Epidemiology & Biostatistics and Pediatrics & Human Development.

“This kind of work takes a long time, but we don’t have to wait until we have all the results before we do something about it,” she said.

Yet for many patients, the rising costs of health care – more than $18,000 a year for the average family – puts it out of reach, said Robert Hughes (MSU ’85), founder and president of Advantage Benefits Group. For example, the cost of a colonoscopy varied from $1,000 at one Michigan facility to $4,000 at another.

“One of the problems with health care is we don’t treat it like groceries, gas and plane tickets,” Hughes said. “We don’t shop for it. When the consumer doesn’t know anything about costs, what happens? They go up.”

He urged the physicians and students to “be agents of change, because this cost is not sustainable.”

At the same time, physicians must never forget the human side of medicine, despite the rapid changes in technology and the demands of data analytics, two speakers said. Joseph Goodman, MD, (CHM ’07) said he often is asked why his alma mater is called the College of Human Medicine. “Within that name there is a lot of truth,” he said, “and that is we practice human medicine.”

John Bartlett, MD, (CHM ’99) reminded the physicians and students of “the importance of the human aspect of medicine, of really caring for patients.”

He learned that lesson as a medical student when his mother underwent breast cancer surgery, and her surgeon patiently explained her treatment to the family and answered their questions. After the surgeon left, Bartlett recalled that his sister remarked, “She was nice.”

“And that’s all that mattered,” Bartlett said.

For physicians, “our struggle is to maintain the human element of medicine while we’ve all been bombarded with technology,” he said. “What kind of physicians can tackle that challenge? Spartans can, and Spartans will.”


MSURx 2016





MSURx 2015







MSURx 2014