Media advisory: Focus on the person in “person-centered care,” is Nielsen’s message at UB medical school graduation

Past president of the AMA tells new physicians: ‘You are a guest in your patients’ lives, not the other way around’

Release Date: May 1, 2014 This content is archived.

Nancy Nielsen.

Nancy Nielsen, MD

“When you go into a hospital room in July, this person is one of many in your busy day, but you're it for them. Your impact is far beyond what you realize. ”
Nancy Nielsen, MD, PhD, Senior associate dean for health policy
School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences

BUFFALO, N.Y. – One hundred twenty-eight new physicians will be welcomed into the medical profession at the 168th commencement of the University at Buffalo’s School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Friday, May 2 at 1:30 p.m. in the Center for the Arts on the North Campus.

The UB medical school Class of 2014 has 66 men and 62 women. Seventy percent are from New York State. Fifty-eight percent will stay in New York to do their medical residency, the next step in their medical training.

The ceremony will be presided over by Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences at UB and dean of the medical school.

The commencement address will be given by Nancy Nielsen, MD, PhD, clinical professor of medicine, senior associate dean for health policy in the UB medical school and a UB medical alumnus. Nielsen, past president of the American Medical Association, served as senior advisor at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She also was an internist in private practice in Western New York for 23 years.

Nielsen will tell the Class of 2014 that UB will remain a bedrock institution in their careers and that UB medical school faculty will keep track of their lives and accomplishments “with almost parental pride.”

She will enumerate some of the most recent and promising high-tech advances in medical science: building organs with a 3D printer, cleaning up defective genes with gene therapy, implanting drugs so popping pills is a thing of the past and using big data to precisely match gene mutations with symptoms.

But even as they enter this increasingly high-tech world, Nielsen will remind them, it is critical that they focus on the person in “person-centered care.”

 “Try to understand each person’s life you encounter,” she will tell them. “A question or a comment, not the checklist of things you will say on rounds the next day, but addressed in a personal way to the individual in front of you, can convey that you see that person as unique, that you are observant and that you have time for them. It may be critical to your care for them and you can easily miss details that matter.”

Nielsen also will tell graduates that they cannot underestimate how important they are to their patients. “When you go into a hospital room in July, this person is one of many in your busy day, but you’re it for them. Your impact is far beyond what you realize, so choose your words and temper your reactions with that knowledge in mind. Remember that you’re a guest in their lives, not the other way around.”

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