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Record number of students apply to Brody School of Medicine

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New ECU medical students Atif Mahmood and Perice Manns were excited to receive their white coats on Friday.

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By Kim Grizzard
Staff Writer

Sunday, August 11, 2019

ECU's Brody School of Medicine welcomed dozens of new students on Friday from a record number of applicants for the Class of 2023.

Eighty-six medical students were introduced at the school's 18th annual White Coat Ceremony, held at the Health Sciences Student Center. All North Carolina residents, they were selected from a pool of 1,075 applicants, the most in the school's 42-year history.

“These students have done amazing things to earn these seats here today,” Dr. Claudia Daly, president of the Brody School of Medicine Alumni Society said of students, whose areas of undergraduate study ranged from science and engineering to music history.

The class, which has an average undergraduate grade point average of 3.65, includes more than a dozen students who have completed graduate-level coursework.

Fifty-one percent of the incoming students are women. Forty-five percent are minority students and 30 percent are from minority groups considered by the the Association of American Medical Colleges to be underrepresented in medicine.

“Today we're a group of people from diverse backgrounds,” said Dr. Mark Stacy, dean of the Brody School of Medicine and vice chancellor for health sciences.

“We ask you to be our colleagues,” he said, addressing students directly. “More important we ask you to be each other's colleagues. This isn't premed. This is no longer competition.”

The class represents 26 counties across the state, from Pasquotank in the east to Buncombe in the west. Students have degrees from two dozen undergraduate institutions, including large universities such as the University of Virginia and Duke to smaller schools such as Elon and Mars Hill.

ECU graduate Conor Pumphrey, 22, began considering a career in medicine when he was in middle school. But a trip following his junior year at J.H. Rose High School helped him to be certain of his path.

As a 17-year-old, Pumphrey volunteered with members of St. James United Methodist Church on a medical missions trip to Nicaragua.

“That was where I solidified my decision to want to become a doctor, seeing patients that are severely underserved and in much need of medical attention,” said Pumphrey, who went on to become an EC Scholar and to be selected for the Early Assurance program at Brody. “The definitive moment was in Nicaragua.”

Dr. Tommy Ellis, who led Pumphrey and a team of volunteers on that medical missions trip and a second one two years later, included a note of encouragement in the pocket of the white coat that Pumphrey received on Friday.

“It's an amazing day for all of us,” Pumphrey said as he read the note. “We've all been working so hard to get to this point. It feels nice to have the symbol, and now we can all decide what we want to do with that symbol.”

The responsibility that comes with the white coat served as a theme for remarks by keynote speaker Brandon Kyle, associate professor of psychiatric and behavioral medicine.

“Why have a white coat ceremony or even a white coat at all?” Kyle asked. “It's because of the symbolism.

“Anyone can walk into a uniform shop and purchase a white coat,” he said. “But only you can give that coat meaning by being the physician that you're meant to be.”

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