American University of Antigua (AUA) College of Medicine held its graduation ceremony on June 1, 2009 at the Grand Hyatt New York at 1PM. Keynote Speaker Congressman Donald M. Payne of New Jersey addressed the students, parents, friends, and faculty. He spoke of a commitment to saving healthcare, and the unique place in history that the graduating class is in; this group of doctors will benefit from technical advances in healthcare that were inconceivable a decade ago, but will also face equally unimaginable financial constraints. He told the students that the dedication that brought them this far would be the sole vehicle for their future success.

Congressman Payne recently visited Antigua with the purpose of expanding educational opportunities for students who wish to become licensed physicians in the United States. Following his visit, Congressman Payne commended AUA on its tremendous impact on the health of surrounding communities in the Caribbean and praised the school’s commitment to improving diversity in medical education.

President Neal Simon and Class Valedictorian Jamilla Stone talked about the perspective that studying in Antigua provides and the state of healthcare. Jamilla said, “We [the graduating class] got to see and participate in healthcare systems both in a developing and developed nation. There is a social responsibility that comes with this profession and whether you like it or not, you have to do something about it.” Mr. Simon stated, at the beginning of his speech, that he drew out his opening as a countermeasure to all the waiting that the graduating class would make their patients go through. He went on to say, “due to the current physician shortage, there will always be patients waiting to see you; patients who have been waiting for too long. With an anticipated shortage of up to 200,000 physicians in the United States and Canada by 2020, we are proud that this is AUA’s largest graduating class, with graduates ready and able to fill this gap.”

AUA graduates secured placement in residency programs across the United States and Canada at leading hospitals including New York Hospital Medical Center, New York’s Mt. Sinai Hospital, Boston’s Tufts Medical Center, Detroit’s Henry Ford Health Science Center, and the University of Toronto.

This was AUA’s largest graduating class. The graduating class size is double that of last year as more qualified applicants turn to the school as an alternative to U.S. medical schools.