ROOTSTOWN, OHIO – Northeast Ohio Medical University honored 225 of Ohio’s newest physicians, pharmacists, public health and other medical professionals during the University’s Commencement, May 20 at The University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Performing Arts Center. In celebrating NEOMED’s 37th and largest graduating class ever, University leadership and guest speakers reminded the graduates of the importance of emotional intelligence in health care.

Jay A. Gershen, D.D.S., Ph.D., president at NEOMED, set the tone early by noting that as each interprofessionally trained graduate moves into the health care workforce, they will become part of larger networks—professional, social and alumni—that are increasingly interdependent, requiring emotional intelligence to navigate. "It is only upon assessing oneself that one can assess a patient and maximize the positive outcomes of the patient-provider relationship."

Commencement keynote speaker Claire Pomeroy, M.D., M.B.A., president and CEO of the Albert and Mary Lasker Foundation, offered a powerful message to graduates as she recounted her typical response upon being asked if her job as CEO is hard. "I tell them that nothing is as hard as being a teenager alone, struggling to survive," stated Dr. Pomeroy, who captivated the audience with her story of escaping an abusive home at the age of 14 and entering the foster care system.

It was through time spent with foster care families and later in life as a physician who treated rejected and stigmatized HIV/AIDS patients that Dr. Pomeroy came to understand her core values and learned that "by giving of ourselves, we can give life to others."

The University also awarded Judith Barnes Lancaster, Esq., with an honorary degree. Lancaster has been a major contributor to NEOMED’s success, serving as chair of the NEOMED Foundation and co-chair of the University’s Shine On Campaign, a comprehensive fundraising effort focused on raising $40 million to advance students, innovation and research, and community health. 

Seventy-six of the 140 College of Medicine graduates will remain in Ohio for their residencies. There were 77 College of Pharmacy graduates, and of those who will be serving residencies, 79 percent will remain in Northeast Ohio. The College of Graduate Studies celebrated eight graduates who will bring positive change to areas such as drug development, system management, public health, ethics and humanities in the health professions.

NEOMED held a special ceremony for the University’s six students who will immediately use their skills in medicine to serve as officers in U.S. Armed Forces. Dr. Gershen then recognized National Military Appreciation Month and Armed Forces Day by asking all current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces to please stand.