Just over 60 years ago, the first 13 graduates from a class of 33 pioneering medical students took the Hippocratic Oath and graduated as the Caribbean’s first home-grown doctors, at the then University College of the West Indies (UCWI)’s founding Mona campus.
On June 9 this year, 248 students from a class of some 300 pledged to serve as doctors – the largest medical class by far to so far be accepted, taught, supervised and to successfully pass their final medical exams at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona. This cohort, which began its five year programme in 2010, was up from around 100 students, which had become the normal intake over a number of years.Indeed the UWI, in 2015, had an overall enrollment (across the five years of the programme) of more than 7,000 medical students over three campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St Augustine in Trinidad & Tobago and Cave Hill in Barbados.
Mona Medical Faculty Dean, Prof Horace Fletcher, said that the graduating class, which did it’s clinical rotations at seven hospitals across Jamaica (up from three) as well as many community health centres, had surpassed all expectations. He noted that the push to expand so significantly had come from the increasingly impressive qualifications of applicants, as well as the opportunity to take students willing to pay above the state-subsidized rate, many of these from overseas.
The pledge ceremony was the Medical Faculty’s recognition that these persons had passed their final examinations and qualified as medical doctors, ready to be employed as interns in the health system. This ceremony, which builds on the Hippocratic Oath, has become a standard rite of passage for UWI medical students. However early medical graduates recall that they were simply counselled on the oath and their responsibilities in a simpler classroom setting prior to the university’s official graduation ceremony.
UWI Medical graduates receive their official graduation certificates, along with their colleagues from other faculties, at graduation ceremonies now held in October/November each year.