Dr. Larry Jacobs: An opportunity for honest conversation


It is my pleasure to welcome all of you back to the 2021-2022 academic year.

Personally, a new school year has always felt like a fresh start or reset. This rings especially true this year.  Although it’s not quite normal, I am hopeful, optimistic and eager to push forward.

I am thrilled that medical learners are back on campus for in-person learning. 

While I have no doubt that we have been able to deliver curriculum during these past 18 months, it is not lost to me how important the hallway interactions are to developing physicians.

Certainly, this was true for me. As I reflect on my time in medical school, I recognize that I was hard-working and altruistic. Coming to campus on the first day, I knew just how worldly I was and how little I had to learn about people. Clearly, I was wrong.

My classmates opened my eyes to so much of the world I didn’t know. We all come from different backgrounds with different lived experiences. The relationships built between classes among a diverse student body are necessary to formulating our professional identities. We need to be seen by our peers, checked at times and supported through the challenges. These human interactions drive this. It makes us better.

While the virtual world allowed an opportunity to salvage much during this challenging time in human history, there is no doubt in my mind that it also contributes to the animosity.

Virtual platforms do not allow the nuanced discussions that are necessary in society. When our thinking is challenged, we need an opportunity for honest conversation. This is especially true in the classroom. Deep understanding of the human body begins with an understanding of each other. Emotion and empathy do not translate well through Zoom and the sea of muted microphones and black screens.

So where do we go from here?

We are cautiously moving forward and returning to campus in a measured way with a robust safety plan. We will deliver curriculum and train future doctors. But more importantly, students will teach each other what it means to be a doctor.

As always, thank you for your hard work and dedication.

Dr. Larry Jacobs
Twitter: @larry_jacobs1