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Medical Students

Covenant Health is excited to provide opportunities for current medical students and to employ the next generation of physicians. If you are a current medical student, we would love to talk to you.


Covenant Health and LMU–DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine collaborate to prepare tomorrow’s physicians 

Covenant Health and Lincoln Memorial University welcomed 33 medical students to their clinical rotations at Covenant hospitals with a July 13 orientation day and “white coat ceremony” in downtown Knoxville. The event celebrated the third class to participate in Covenant Health’s clinical partnership with LMU’s DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine. Clinical rotations give medical students a chance to apply classroom knowledge to the real world of patient care. The program lasts for the final two years of medical school. Each student received a personalized white coat to wear while working and learning at three Covenant Health hospitals. Cumberland Medical Center in Crossville, Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge, and Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System in Morristown serve as core rotation sites for the program. Under the direct supervision of physicians, the medical students interview and examine patients, review clinical information, make hospital rounds, participate in interdisciplinary team meetings, practice appropriate documentation and perform procedures. In addition to the clinical rotation classes, LMU-DCOM students also have the opportunity to take part in elective experiences at other Covenant Health hospitals. Medical students have gained hands-on training in a variety of clinical areas including primary care, neurology, perinatology, radiology and orthopedics.

Encouraging Servant Leadership

Brian Kessler, DO, vice president and dean of DCOM, encouraged the students to follow the servant leadership exemplified in Covenant Health’s pledge of excellence, which emphasizes always putting patients first. “If you come out of your clinical environment being a servant leader, you’re going to be a phenomenal physician,” he said. Dr. Kessler quoted Abraham Lincoln as saying, “The better part of one’s life consists of friendships.” He said the friendship that has developed between LMU-DCOM and Covenant Health will have a lasting impact. “I look at our friendship with Covenant Health and it’s committed to excellence,” Dr. Kessler said. “It’s a phenomenal opportunity for both institutions to continue meeting the healthcare needs of our patients.” Luke Johnson, Covenant Health executive vice president of physician enterprise/ambulatory services, said he hopes the medical students will return to the health system as physicians after graduation. “At Covenant Health our job is to give you the best platform possible for you and your patient to have the best outcome possible. We take that very seriously,” Johnson said. “We need well-trained, prepared physicians to be part of our community, to be part of our system, to be part of helping our families.”

Preparing for Clinical Training – and the Future

The luncheon followed a morning of learning for the medical students. Covenant Health senior vice president and chief medical officer Mark Browne, MD, discussed quality, safety and service. Students also heard from Mandy Halford, MD, vice president and chief medical informatics officer, about professionalism, roles and responsibilities. Debby Saraceni, vice president of marketing and physician services at Covenant Health, told the students, “Today is a declaration of your purpose. You are formally committing to a life of service, of giving back, of caring for the sick when they are at their most vulnerable. . . . It is a calling, and the privilege of caring for people is a sacred trust that you must earn.” In addition to gaining hands-on training in the medical field, students in the program also prepare themselves for post-graduate education. Armed with knowledge, experience and connections, they are well prepared for residency. With opportunities to experience a variety of medical career options during clinical training, the LMU-DCOM students also get a clearer picture of next steps in their medical careers. And after working at Covenant Health hospitals for two years, they understand the high practice standards expected of physicians working with the region’s largest healthcare provider. “Your opportunity to have a huge impact on people’s lives is real,” said Johnson, “because it’s somebody’s mom, it’s somebody’s dad, it’s somebody’s child — and that’s a very serious obligation on both our part and your part.” Jonathan Leo, Ph.D., executive vice dean of academic affairs at the medical college, encouraged the students to make the college proud, and in turn to make Covenant Health proud. “They have a very high bar — you need to bring your ‘A game,’” he said. “Be enthusiastic about learning and you will do well.”