Collage of UC Davis School of Medicine archival photos, celebrating 50 years

Sukhjeet Batth, M.D.

Class of 2012

I am thankful to have had the privilege to attend the UC Davis School of Medicine. The collegial atmosphere fostered strong camaraderie — from our dissection groups in anatomy as MS1s to our accomplished intramural soccer team! We were lucky to have excellent teachers like Drs. Gross, Tucker and Blankenship, who made complex topics fun and easy to learn.

Then there were the memorable Doctoring sessions with challenging and provocative standardized patient encounters. The student-run clinics provided us with insight into health care disparities and introduced us to direct patient care. And the Kenya MEDICOS program, under the leadership of Drs. Flynn and Wilkes, gave us an unforgettable global health experience. I'm most thankful for the mentoring I received from the Department of Radiation Oncology, including Drs. Chen, Monjazeb, and Fragoso.

There is surely no other medical school like UC Davis School of Medicine, and the faculty, staff and students make it the best place to learn how to take great care of patients!

Joanne Berkowitz, M.D.

Class of 1972 – The first graduating class

The first graduating class of UC Davis School of Medicine was fortunate to have a large group of volunteer community physicians and mentors. Dr. E. Jack Benner was one. While biking to class on the day of our first patient interviews in Sacramento, I collided with another student and fell off my bike. I was scraped up a bit and my nylon stockings were run.

When we met with Dr. Benner, our preceptor, he asked our group of four students, “Who’s first?” Three hands pointed at me, the first person alphabetically in our group of four students. Dr. Benner had a reputation as a gruff, no-nonsense physician and we were all pretty nervous. No one wanted to be the first up. He looked at me for a second, pointed to one of the other guys and said, “You go first. She looks like she could use a break.” What a diagnostician! He was a star in my book of instructors for the remainder of our four years.

Paul E. Bigeleisen, M.D.

Class of 1984

I was 27 when I entered the class of 1984 in 1980. I was older because I had finished graduate studies in theoretic physics before going to medical school. I am grateful to Berkeley and Davis and the University of California system for training me in both physics and medicine. There were few registration fees at Davis at that time, so matriculating at Davis posed very little risk. Students who enter medical school now have burdens in some cases that make them economic slaves. That is, they are only trained to do medicine, and the debts that they have accrued make it difficult to repay their debts in fields other than medicine. So they are constrained to practice medicine even if they do not like it.

In 1980, Davis was a second-tier university with the exception of its agriculture school. Moreover, students entering medicine are very different from those who enter graduate studies in physics. For this reason, I found it difficult to adjust to the university as well as my peers in medical school. Fortunately, I was married when I entered medical school, so I had a lot of support at home. I did make one long term friend, Yin Tzeng, at medical school.

The medical school curriculum at Davis prepared me well for my residency in anesthesiology and critical care. My training in physics has allowed me to work as a biomedical engineer. I have been designing robots to replace physicians for the past 20 years. I own part of Visual DX which uses a cell phone to diagnose skin, ocular and oral lesions with a cell phone. It’s almost as good as a dermatologist and much better than primary care practitioners. It’s used in all of the VA and military hospitals and about 75% of the teaching hospitals. Many HMOs also use it. I’m 65 now and plan to retire from clinical duties in 5 years. I hope to continue doing research after retirement from clinical practice. Regards to other members of the Class of 1984.

Olivia Campa, M.D.

Class of 2014
Chief Resident, Internal Medicine, UC Davis Health

Olivia Campa, M.D.
At UC Davis School of Medicine I was taught the skills I needed to make my dreams true.

Making dreams come true

Getting the call “Welcome to the Class of 2014!” is a memory that will forever be a fond one. The combined emotions of excitement and nervousness for how my life would change as a physician were emotions that made for many sleepless nights.

Arriving at UC Davis School of Medicine I met some of the most amazing, accomplished, kind-hearted people. We shared all night studying sessions, transitions from pre-clinical to clinical years and the many challenges that every student works through in medical school. Match day came with crying and screaming. Tears of joy and excitement for the next part of the journey. I matched at UC Davis Internal Medicine and went on to become a Chief Resident.

As I enter into my new job as an Assistant Clinical Professor at UC Davis School of Medicine I often reflect on those time before I was a medical student. Seeing myself as a faculty member and starting a dream job. At UC Davis School of Medicine I was taught the skills I needed to make my dreams true. I am grateful for the educators and for the amazing colleagues who pushed me to be best doctor possible.

Suzanne Coberly, M.D.

Class of 1991

I come from a working class family (Mom was a teacher's aide, my father a maintenance man/mechanic for the City of Fresno) that very much supported education, but was also very nervous about my becoming a doctor. My mom actually said to me, "People like us don't become doctors - I'm worried you'll be disappointed" when I started applying. It was a pretty hard road, not because of the needed scholarship, but because I didn't have any real knowledge about the people aspect of changing cultures.

However, I was determined to go to medical school and was focused specifically on pathology, as I was very interested in translational research and had been told this was a good route. I also turned out to have the good visual skills needed for pathology and really liked the subject. Dr. Robert Cardiff was a wonderful teacher, mentor and role model during my stay at Davis. One time, I was walking with him through the school early in my career, feeling a bit intimidated, and commented that "it is a little odd to think the daughter of a mechanic is going to become a physician". He immediately turned to me and said, "What do you think a doctor is, but a mechanic for the human body?" I laughed and never felt as nervous about being there again. Thanks for giving me a chance to share. I ended up doing exactly what I wanted — I'm a leader of translational pathology groups in biotech, doing research to select the right patient for the right drug.

Alan Cohen, M.D.

Class of 1976

When our class arrived in July of 1972, we had temporary buildings and half days of classes. Our training left much to be desired. However, the intent was overwhelmingly positive.

We had a wonderful class. It was half women and lots of minorities. And the warmth and variety and intelligence and goodwill sweetened the air. We were assigned patients to visit at home during our first week. We had training in sexuality. We had the opportunity to choose electives for the half days we had free: I chose nutrition but also Eugene O’Neill and horseback riding. Our softball team, The Sphincters of Uranus, was undefeated and led our division. We were encouraged to choose primary care. I did have to learn primary care on my own after I left residency. Little I’d been taught was pertinent and much of what was taught was wrong. But the people I met were most of the best people I’ve ever met. I left with ten lifelong friends, more than twice as many as from high school and college combined. Funny people, capable people, responsible people, caring people. It was a better time in medicine. Tuition was less than a thousand dollars a year; and we were not limited to 15 minutes a patient and had no data entry responsibilities. But it was the enthusiasm and endurance of the class that made medical school memorable. I was lucky to be part of that class of 1976.

Bruce Greenberg, M.D.

Class of 1975

Aggies remember: The legend of The Gorilla Pit

Originally appeared in UC Davis Magazine, Spring 1977

Several months ago, it was time to take my recertification boards, which family physicians have to do every six years or so. While the exam had previously been given in San Francisco, the Northern California site had now been moved to Sacramento, which meat that I would be passing by UC Davis. Just seeing the campus building from the freeway, even though it was dark, brought back a lot of old memories and reminded me that the School of Medicine was celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Little did I realize when I first arrived at the UC Davis medical school in 1971 that I would later feel like a part of the early history of that institution, founded by a group of physicians sometimes referred to as the “magnificent seven.” I had grown up in big cities and attended UC Berkeley for undergraduate school, so this was my first real exposure to a rural setting, but it apparently made enough of a lasting impression to steer me toward a career in rural medicine. I loved the idea of being able to ride my bike without having to worry about traffic, and I enjoyed seeing animals roaming in what seemed like wide-open spaces.

At first it appeared such an unlikely place for a medical school, usually envisioned as having lots of high-rise buildings. Instead the location was virtually surrounded by cow pastures.…

Read the rest of the story (archival PDF scan of the original article) »

Michael GuntherMaher, M.D.

Class of 1976

I suppose every generation reflects on “back in the day” to find themselves thinking how good it was. Over the years of my career in medicine, I’ve done the same.

Perhaps, though, I could simply say that my mentors in the School of Medicine delivered the goods. They pushed and pulled me through medical school and prepared me for a challenging residency in internal medicine. As a resident there, they helped me find my style and vision as a physician, which was the needed groundwork for the decades that would follow. When I recall Faith Fitzgerald telling the 3rd year clerks “when you’re tempted to complain, look around and you’ll find someone working harder than you (my paraphrase)” it is with deep appreciation, as it helped me learn not only to work harder than I’d ever had to, but to show up for patients in moments that found me fatigued and frustrated. When I think about Tim Albertson’s comment on my first presentation during my 4th year acting internship in the ICU—“that was the WORST presentation I’ve ever heard (actual quote)!”—well, I also remember that he followed that up with skilled mentorship that had me finally fall in love with medicine.

Medical school was hard—that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. And it was the most richly invested four years of my adult life, prepping me for the vision, discipline and endurance that I would need to live out my medical career. I am indebted to UC Davis, and my heart knows it well.

David J. Manske, M.D.

Class of 1981

I started medical school at UC Davis School of Medicine in 1977. Our class, the class of ‘81, was the first to start at the new medical school, in the west corner of the campus, near the extant Vet School. Previously classes had been held in the old Surge buildings on the main campus. The new school was so shiny and modern! The landscaping was so fresh! Playing Frisbee between classes in MS 180, the tiny trees could be knocked over by exuberant 1st years. The medical library smelled new, and was a favorite place to study, next to then-tiny Book Store. (I recall one of my classmates, now a professor at UC Davis Medical Center, setting up a “Slip’N’Slide” on the sloping ground that surrounded the library, for more between-classroom summer fun!).

I attended a Commencement ceremony there, many years later, and was pleased to see that the trees on the quad had not only survived all those rambunctious students, but now had trunks a foot in diameter! So many fond memories! (I think I’ll go pull out my old yearbooks!) And, of course, the medical school is now in Sacramento, on another beautiful campus.

Thank you, UC Davis School of Medicine, for the memories, the friendships, the excellent training and a fabulous career in the service of those in need.

Angela Rodgers, M.D.

Chief Resident, Contra Costa Regional Family Medicine Program

As a first generation college student, medical school was a dream come true. From my first anatomy lab with Drs. Blankenship, Tucker and Gross to learning about cultural humility in the Summer Institute with Dr. Jann Murray-Garcia to serving patients at my TEACH-MS continuity clinic Northgate with psychiatrist Dr. Andres Sciolla, my medical school experience was filled with every possible emotion imaginable. There was little sleep, long hours and what felt like final exams every week. However, the people I met in medical school became family who guided me through some of my best years of schooling. The support and excellent education I received from UC Davis School of Medicine will not be forgotten. I can't wait to celebrate the 50th year celebration with my UC Davis family!

Francis Sousa, M.D.

Class of 1974
UC Davis Ophthalmology resident, Volunteer Clinical Faculty

Wow! 50 years!! So many memories. Classmates playing the theme to “The Sting” as we marched out of Freeborn Hall at commencement. The early 70’s at UC Davis School of Medicine and residency programs, surrounded by discovery and invention. What a privilege!

In 1970, I remember Dr. Tupper telling us on our first day that the UC Davis School of Medicine was founded on the principle that our first-class academic medical school MUST be a cooperative effort with the community in which we live and serve. Plans for a student-run clinic were created.

As the years have turned into decades, the sparkle of many “jewels” has become even brighter and more memorable. As a student, I was a member of the “vast middle” of my class. My “guardian angels,” classmates Dan O’Connor and Dennis Devereaux, helped me see this was OK and showed me how to grow. While I was an ophthalmology resident, Mike Shermer and Dr. Portney were my “menschen,” living the wisdom they taught. I will always treasure my classmates and fellow residents.

Participating in the admitting, teaching and mentoring of UC Davis School of Medicine students and residents in my small way has truly been an honor. In many ways we are so different now than we were 50 years ago — truly world class. But at the same time, it is great to know that in perhaps the most important way we are the same — remembering Dr. Tupper’s words of excellence through community!

Randall L. Stenson, M.D.

Member of the inaugural class

I am a member of the inaugural 1968 class. I have many fond memories of working as an incoming medical student helping our new faculty move into their homes and ‘carrels’ or temporary offices where they would be teaching us the fundamentals of medicine. My wife, Mary Ann, and I babysat for the Tupins, Langsleys, and other non-psychiatric physician families and still maintain contact with some, either through Christmas cards or events like Dr. Hales’ retirement. (We will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary this August 24)

I have been blessed with good health and still own a treatment clinic that focuses on opioid treatment in Sacramento, using Methadone and Buprenorphine, to treat this illness that increasingly is understood as a biologically predisposed disorder.

Kathleen Taylor, M.D.

Class of 1980

In 1976 to 1980, the medical school still met in temporary buildings with inadequate window air-conditioners. First-year lectures met from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m., and 2nd year met in the afternoon our first year. The anatomy lab was open for 1st year students in the afternoon, as well as chemistry and other labs. On hot days, the formalin was quite potent! There was a single telephone in one of the buildings which allowed students to call their families free of long-distance charges, and we lined up and limited our conversations to five minutes, especially in the evenings.

Of our class’s 100 members, 48 were women, and the average age was 28, with many older students. Ours was the year that Mr. Bakke had applied, so when he filed his lawsuit, we had a lot of press coming to ask opinions. We soon discovered that news articles were written from the paper’s perspective, and our words were distorted, so we put a moratorium on reporters in our classes or buildings. Dr. Bakke did eventually gain admission, but not until our class had graduated.

In our first year, we established a Women in Medicine Club, and a file in the medical library for articles and books on women in medicine. When one of the women asked a physiology professor what the difference was between the usual “70 kg man’s” physiology and an average woman’s, she was hissed by the class’s men, and the lecturer said it was the same.

In the second year, we began the study of clinical examination and working in clinics. There was a Latino Clinic, a Black Clinic and an Asian Clinic where students could work with mentor doctors. I led a group of women medical students and community activists in organizing a women’s clinic, which was awarded a grant from the State Legislature and a Commendation for its work in an underserved Sacramento area. It was named Womankind. Forward-thinking doctors from UC Davis Medical Center, both residents and preceptors, were our mentors. We posted patient’s rights, saw women dressed for interview before exams, and did mentored and modeled pelvic exams with ourselves as subjects to give our male colleagues feedback on gentle and considerate exam techniques. We used warming drawers for speculums, and had mirrors to show a woman her vagina and cervix. These were part of the women’s health movement culminating in the famous book Our Bodies, Ourselves, which we kept in the waiting room and lent out. Womankind remained functioning until 1986.

Under Assistant Dean Lois Grady, some of the top students were enlisted as tutors for struggling students. Almost all of our class graduated together, or within a year.