Ebola survivor and IUSM alum challenges grads to stay compassionate

May 14, 2015

Dr. Kent Brantly, a medical missionary and 2009 graduate of the IU School of Medicine, told this year's graduates that commencement is the beginning of an adventure that awaits them. 

Missionary and Ebola survivor Kent Brantly, M.D., a 2009 IUSM graduate, delivered an inspiring address at the school's commencement May 9. | Photo By TIM YATES

"You’ve spent the last four years together in this chrysalis known as the IU School of Medicine, and now you are about to spread out your new wings for the first time -- and you’ll be doing so in 34 different states," Dr. Brantly said from the podium in the Sagamore Ballroom at the Indiana Convention Center.

Dr. Brantly advised the new physicians to remember why they entered medical school and not to lose direction during the challenging period of residency training.

"So I challenge each of you -- find your medical school application essay and read it. Do you still have the same goals? Are you still the same person? Do you want to be once again the person that you were back then? Becoming who you want to be does not happen by accident. It takes intention and effort and patience. So don’t let the world beat you down. Don’t let residency wear you out." 

Speaking about his experience last year, first as a physician in Liberia during the worst of the Ebola epidemic and later as an Ebola patient himself, Dr. Brantly said he was not disheartened by the loss of life.

Brantly poses with one of his IUSM mentors Javier Sevilla-Martir, M.D. | Photo By MARY HARDIN

"…even in the face of such devastating odds, we knew that what we were doing was right. Losing so many patients was difficult, but it didn’t make me feel like a failure as a physician. Because I had learned that there is a lot more to being a physician than curing illness."  

At the conclusion of his remarks, the 404 graduates and the more than 3,000 members of the audience stood and applauded.

Read Dr. Brantly's entire address and see the Time magazine coverage of his presentation expanding on his honor as one of Time's Person of the Year "Ebola Fighters".