June 10, 2014 Healthy Living

Advice to Recent College & Medical School Graduates

I recently had the honor of addressing the graduates, along with their proud families and friends, at The Sage Colleges and Albany Medical College commencement ceremonies.

Standing before the graduates, I was reminded of how I came to know that health care was my calling. My journey began when I left my hometown of Brooklyn, New York at 16 years old to pursue an engineering degree at RPI. I soon realized, though, that health care was a field that would connect me more closely with the people in my community. I considered family medicine and nephrology, but I ultimately selected cardiology as my specialty.

While poring over medical textbooks and learning to treat patients, I learned the most important lesson of all: Life is not about me.

Throughout your education, you are focused on studying and striving for the ultimate goal – graduation. While your life after graduation will definitely have some me-centric goals – paying your bills, getting a job, and starting a family – when you select a career in health care, you are making the choice to put patients first.

Dr. Francis Peabody, who practiced medicine in the early 1900s, once said, “The secret of the care of the patient is in caring for the patient.”

Embarking on a career in medicine is a blessing, but it comes with tremendous responsibility. While each student has earned his or her diploma, he or she will continue to earn the patients’ gratitude every day.

This is an incredible time to be entering the health care field. More than ever before, you have more tools, opportunities and advantages for being a healer and putting the patient first. The ever-changing world of science and technology is exciting and it’s having a tremendous impact on the practice of medicine. In 30 years, today’s medicine will be obsolete – it’s a physician’s responsibility to continue to grow and learn.

Whether you are a recent graduate, currently in the health care field, or something altogether different, your future success depends on forgetting about yourself. If you consider your obligations to your family, friends, employer and community at large as being of the utmost importance, you will make a difference.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Kris Qua for The Sage Colleges

John D. Bennett, MD, FACC, FACP
About the Author

John D. Bennett, MD, FACC, FACP, is president and CEO of Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan, Inc. (CDPHP), an award-winning, physician aligned, not-for-profit health plan based in Albany, NY. Bennett has held the position since 2008 after serving more than 10 years as chair, vice chair, and board member for CDPHP. During his tenure, CDPHP has been ranked among the top-performing health plans in New York and the nation, most recently named #1 in Customer Satisfaction in the 2023 J.D. Power Member Health Plan Study. Under his leadership, CDPHP has also become known as a model employer regionally and nationally and was recently named among the top five Best Companies to Work for in New York by the Society for Human Resource Management, as well as Forbes Best-in-State Employers 2022. Prior to joining CDPHP, Bennett served as founding member and CEO of Prime Care Physicians, PLLC. During his tenure, he co-led a team of 25 cardiologists and helped grow the practice to a 100-physician multi-specialty group. Bennett is board certified by the National Board of Medical Examiners and the American Board of Internal Medicine, with subspecialties in internal medicine and cardiology. He earned his medical degree at SUNY-Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, and a Bachelor of Science degree at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Bennett completed an internship and residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in cardiovascular disease at Albany Medical Center. He is a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology and the American College of Physicians. Bennett is currently board chair for the Center for Economic Growth and the Capital Region Chamber, and vice chair for the Palace Theatre. Bennett also serves on the boards of the New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC), the Alliance of Community Health Plans (ACHP), America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and Russell Sage Colleges. Bennett is a member of the New York Public Health and Health Planning Council where he helps shape decisions related to New York State's public health and health care delivery system. Well-known locally and nationally for advancing health care innovation, Bennett was recently named to Crain’s New York Business 2021 Notable in Health Care, as well as the Albany Business Review’s Power 50 list.

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