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Wyoming-WWAMI Graduates Receive Medical Degrees

June 8, 2021
Heidi Hanekamp and Sarah Maze

Twenty-one students from the Wyoming-WWAMI Medical Education Program on the University of Wyoming campus received their medical degrees in a part virtual, part in-person ceremony May 22 in the Wyoming Union Yellowstone Ballroom.

Members of the entering 2017 (E17) class of medical students, along with two students from the E16 class, were joined by WWAMI faculty and staff members, as well as over 80 friends and family, to celebrate this milestone on the pathway to becoming fully licensed physicians.

Their degrees reflect two years of the foundations phase of their education in the University of Wyoming College of Health Sciences, followed by two years of clinical work throughout the WWAMI region (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho). The degrees are awarded through the University of Washington School of Medicine.

Typically, the University of Washington School of Medicine has a graduation ceremony at Benaroya Hall in Seattle, Wash., each year, but the in-person ceremony was canceled for the second year in a row due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Drs. Heidi Hanekamp (E17 class president) and Sarah Maze contacted the Wyoming-WWAMI office when the University of Washington School of Medicine announced that its annual ceremony was canceled and requested that the ceremony for Wyoming-WWAMI graduates be done in person on the campus of the University of Wyoming. Tim Robinson, director of Wyoming-WWAMI, was happy to oblige.

“We were able to secure the University of Wyoming Union Yellowstone Ballroom, where we could socially distance, so we felt comfortable holding the event in person,” Robinson says. “Our faculty and staff worked hard to pull the event off. It was wonderful having the opportunity to get these excellent students back together as a class, and every one of our graduates this year was able to participate in the ceremony.”

Dr. Paul Johnson, Wyoming-WWAMI alumnus and otolaryngologist with the Ivinson Medical Group, served as the keynote speaker for the graduation ceremony and began by noting the challenges these students had overcome.

“I’d like to start by saying these past 14 months of the COVID-19 pandemic brought incredible challenges to our lives while trying to learn and provide medical care to our patients,” Johnson said. “I congratulate all of you for coming through these unique challenges and know you will be better physicians for it.”

Each year, the Wyoming Medical Society (WMS) awards the Centennial Scholarship to an outstanding medical school graduate. Award recipients are chosen based on commitment to service and dedication to learning. This year’s recipient is Maze, of Ranchester. She attended the University of Wyoming and graduated with degrees in physiology and Spanish. In addition to her studies, Maze demonstrated her commitment to service through numerous endeavors in medical school, including teaching about gestational diabetes on the Wind River Indian Reservation and in Nepal. She will continue her training at the Family Medicine Residency of Idaho in Boise.

In addition to the WMS scholarship, the Wyoming Academy of Family Physicians (WAFP) Scholarship is awarded to graduating medical school students for their outstanding performance and dedication to family medicine, and who are matching into a family medicine residency. Dr. John Haeberle, a family medicine physician in Laramie and medical school mentor, presented this year’s WAFP Scholarship to two graduates: Maze and Hanekamp, who is from Laramie.

Dr. Yvette Haeberle, WWAMI clinical curriculum director, led students in reciting the Physician’s Oath, formally referred to as the Hippocratic Oath. The oath represents a binding agreement that physicians conduct themselves properly and in the care of their patients.

In a special recognition honoring Robinson for his service, John Willford, a clinical assistant professor, presented Robinson with gifts from students, staff, faculty and friends, which included messages thanking him for his service, which began in 2013.

Following their graduation, the medical students will begin their residencies at university teaching hospitals throughout the United States.

Wyoming’s newest physicians, listed here by hometown and name, are:

Cheyenne -- Dillon Brown, Trevor Mordhorst and Sabrina Wilcox.

Cody -- Madeleine Birch, Jackson Schmidt and Ethan Slight.

Douglas -- Aaron Robertson.

Gillette -- Spencer Pecha, Jordan Reed and Mason Stillman.

Green River -- Michael Robison.

Laramie -- Lingga Adidharma, Tappy Gish, Heidi Hanekamp and Joshua Henry.

Powell -- Olivia Rogers and Giandor Saltz.

Ranchester -- Sarah Maze.

Rock Springs -- Cody Hansen, Austin Lever and Kelsey Tuttle.

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