Aspects Volume 38 No. 3

Commencement 2015

Group Picture

"Give the patient a piece of yourself. That never hurts. You are not transgressing some imagined line designed to separate objectivity from caring." - Dr. Michael LaCombe

The auditorium was filled with proud families and friends of the 70 physicians and four graduate students who received degrees from Southern Illinois University School of Medicine. The 41st commencement took place on Saturday, May 16, 2015.

This year’s commencement speaker was Michael LaCombe, MD, professor of medicine and medical humanities at the University of New England and cardiologist at Maine General Medical Center in Augusta, where he served as director of cardiology services for six years (1998-2004). In addition to practicing internal medicine and cardiology since 1975, LaCombe is an avid writer, having published more than 100 stories and essays in peer-reviewed medical journals and more than a dozen books.

During the ceremony, Bryan Kidd, MD, of St. Joseph delivered remarks on behalf of the graduates. J. Kevin Dorsey, MD, PhD, dean and provost, awarded diplomas to the medical students, and Randal Thomas, chair of the SIU Board of Trustees, conferred the degrees. Susan Hingle, MD, professor of internal medicine and internal medicine’s clerkship director, hooded the graduates. Wesley McNeese, MD, executive assistant to the dean for diversity, multicultural and minority affairs at SIU, read the Hippocratic Oath.

YouTubeListen to this year’s commencemnet speeches:


View the 2015 Commencement photo gallery:

Awards and Honors

CommencementThe graduates awarded Gary Rull, MD, associate professor of internal medicine, the 2015 Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching. "His brilliance as a physician is matched only by his talent as an educator," said Dr. Bryan Kidd. "I have had the privilege of working with and learning from Dr. Rull, and I can attest to his leadership by example, tremendous care for patients and unparalleled facilitation of learning."

The class also chose Ron Browning, PhD, professor emeritus of physiology, as the Teacher of the Year for his guidance during their first year of instruction on SIU’s Carbondale campus.

Martha Hlafka, MD, assistant professor of internal medicine, and Sam Hughes, MD, a 2015 graduate, received The Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Awards presented by the Aronold P. Gold Foundation. The awards are given annually to a faculty member and graduating student who demonstrate compassion, respect for patients and families and clinical excellence.

"Dr. Hlafka is a consummate professional who embodies empathy in patient care. She is a passionate educator, an exemplary team leader and patient advocate," wrote one nominator.

"Sam is a person everyone enjoys working with," wrote one nominator. "His peers regard him as one of the smartest and friendliest students, and he is well respected within our class. He always makes the effort to learn not only about his patient’s medical conditions, but also the patient’s social conditions so he can better formulate treatment options for them."

"He has worked extensively in the last year to building a new opportunity for medical students to experience hands-on training related to health disparities and social determinants by building a hotspotting program," another nominator wrote. "Using his knowledge from the clinic, he has worked with community agencies to identify individuals who may benefit from personal, one-on-one care and social support."