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Upstate will award 478 degrees at Commencement May 5

Four students earn MD/PHD degrees.

Upstate will award 478 degrees during Commencement May 5

The event will take place at the SRC Arena on the campus of Onondaga Community College. The ceremony begins at 10 a.m. Doors open at 9 a.m. This year’s Commencement marks the first time since 2011 that all students will be honored during a single ceremony. Previously, each college held its own graduation ceremony.

Among the degree recipients this year are four students who will earn both an MD and a PhD: Karen Cyndari, Dawn Lammert, Scott Minchenberg and Daniel Tylee. It’s the largest MD/PhD class since 2012 when six students earned the dual doctorate.

And there’s still more training to come. The four have medical residencies to complete: Cyndari at University of Iowa Health Care in Emergency Medicine; Lammert at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Child Neurology; Minchenberg at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Internal Medicine; and Dan Tylee at Yale, New Haven Hospital in Psychiatry/Research.

The MD/PhD program trains future physician-scientists who, by combining the practice of medicine in the clinic with biomedical research in the laboratory, are uniquely trained to bring the power of modern science to our understanding and treatment of human disease.

Job outlook good for many grads

For many Upstate graduates, the job market is booming. For example, students in Upstate’s Physician Assistant program, who end their studies in August, are all but guaranteed a job in their field.

Sandy Banas, who directs the program, says the increasing demand for physician assistants is fueled by retirements in the medical field, an aging population in need for more health care and the Affordable Care Act that has provided more people with access to care.

Thirty-three of the 35 graduates from last year’s class are employed as physician assistants; nearly one-third are working in the primary care field, which includes family medicine, internal medicine, pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology.

Another in-demand profession is that of cardiovascular perfusionist. All 10 students in this year’s graduating class in the College of Health Professions program have job commitments with some commanding salaries of more than 100,000 and some even with sign-on bonuses. Perfusionists are operating room specialists who conduct cardiopulmonary bypass. That is, they pump and oxygenate the blood of patients whose hearts or lungs are stopped, usually during open heart surgery.

Health Commissioner to speak

New York Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, MD, JD, will address graduates at Commencement. In addition to Zucker, Commencement will feature remarks from Upstate Interim President Mantosh Dewan, MD.

As the state’s chief physician, Zucker leads initiatives to combat the opioid crisis, strengthen environmental health, end the AIDS epidemic and address major public health issues, including Ebola, Legionella, e-cigarettes and tobacco cessation.

Zucker presides over the state’s Medicaid program, the Wadsworth Center—New York’s premier public health lab and also oversees the entire health care workforce, including hospitals, long-term care and nursing homes.

Zucker is the second sitting New York state health commissioner to address Upstate graduates. David Axelrod, MD, gave Commencement remarks in 1984.

Commencement by the numbers

The College of Graduate Studies will award 22 degrees (three masters of science and 19 doctoral degrees, including eight doctorates in neuroscience). Fields of study in the college include anatomy, biochemistry, microbiology, neuroscience, pharmacology and physiology.

The College of Health Professions will award 156 degrees (60 bachelors of science, eight bachelors of professional studies, 39 master of science and 41 doctorates of physical therapy). Programs in the college include cardiovascular perfusion, medical imaging, medical technology, medical biotechnology, respiratory care, physical therapy, physician assistant and radiation therapy.

The College of Medicine will award 173 degrees (149 doctors of medicine and 24 masters of public health).

The College of Nursing will award 122 degrees and certificates (43 bachelor of science, 68 master of science, five doctorate of nursing practice and six post-master certificates).

Caption: On Sunday, four students will be awarded both an MD and PhD degree. Meet the doctors times two, from left: Karen Cyndari, Dawn Lammert, Scott Minchenberg and Dan Tylee. The eight-year program trains and educates individuals to be physician scientists. At present, 30 students are enrolled in the program.