A magazine for friends of the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

From Classroom To Clinic


Class of MD’26 celebrates transition into clinical learning with the Stepping Up Celebration.

Friends and loved ones of rising third-year medical students gathered to celebrate a major milestone in their academic careers on April 28 as they took part in the second annual Stepping Up Celebration, which marks the shift from classroom to clinical learning.

The new tradition, which was established in response to the COVID-19 pandemic—when the white coat ceremony could not be held—celebrated the conclusion of the first half of their medical school journeys . B. Star Hampton, MD, senior associate dean for medical education, called the achievement a “formidable feat” and said few people have the privilege to embark on caring for others as physicians in training.

“You are not only representing The Warren Alpert Medical School, you are representing the profession of medicine,” Hampton said. “It’s a profession that is a privilege that you have earned and should not take lightly.”

She encouraged the MD Class of 2026 to set an example not only as caretakers but as colleagues in their upcoming clinical rotations. It’s important, she told them, to “step up” and learn primarily from patients and their peers by being present, focused, and self-directed learners. Hampton emphasized the importance of indulging in the many sides of clinical medicine and to find their passion, while also giving oneself a level of grace when facing challenges.

“Knowledge is incredibly important, but I think you’ll find that this year, there’s something that, when placed in synergy with those book smarts, is perhaps even more important and changes lives—that’s the human connections,” Hampton said.

Benjamin Stone ScM’20 MD’25, who received the John Evrard Prize at the inaugural Stepping Up Celebration recognizing academic achievement by a second-year student, spoke about ways to successfully tackle clerkships and shared a moving story from his internal medicine rotation. While caring for an older patient with a neurological issue, the two bonded over their lives, their careers, and Stone’s experiences in medical school. While Stone said he did not contribute significantly to his care, he helped the patient pass the time at the hospital as he fought an infection. Stone said he later learned from residents that the patient had asked about him frequently after discharge—and even wondered when Stone would become his doctor.

“As medical students, we are in a unique position in that we have the time and the capacity to truly connect with our patients,” Stone said. “I urge you to do this. It will bring you and your patients immeasurable happiness.”

Roxanne Vrees ’98 MD’03 RES’07, associate dean for student affairs, recalled when she spoke to students during their orientation two years ago. She hoped those remarks, particularly those focused on the challenges of imposter syndrome, resonated as much with them now as they did then. Vrees read her poem “Lessons Learned During My Third Year,” which addressed her own clerkship with the Department of Veterans Affairs, the embarrassment of passing out in front of her attending physician, and how she found her own passion through learned experiences.

Sarah Buchanan ’21 MD’26, a Medical Student Ambassador who was joined by her mother and sister, said the next chapter of medical school was a long time coming for her and her friends. She enjoys working in the emergency room and ob/gyn, but is keeping an open mind for her rotations.

“The preclinical years were rewarding but hard, and I’m just really happy to finally have the opportunity to care for patients. It’s such a privilege,” Buchanan said.


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