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UB medical school graduate envisions a future in 'medical hub' Buffalo is becoming

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Fri, May 13th 2016 10:10 pm

Burgeoning downtown medical campus has a strong pull

By the University at Buffalo

Jason Edwards is leaving Buffalo this summer for his medical residency, but it's not forever. Once his training is complete, this Western New York native definitely plans to come back.

The reason? The economic, academic and social renaissance that's happening on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus in downtown Buffalo.

"I want to come back and be part of this medical movement," said Edwards, who graduated from the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in April. "I don't think that, in 10 or 15 years, people will be calling Buffalo a Rust Belt city anymore. This is going to be a medical hub."

Already, brand-new, state-of-the-art medical and clinical facilities have opened, starting with the Conventus medical office building. Later this month, Roswell Park Cancer Institute's Scott Bieler Clinical Sciences Center will open, to be followed in 2017 with the opening of the new home of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB as well as the John R. Oishei Children's Hospital.

Edwards is looking forward to his internal medicine residency in the New York City area, but the Niagara Falls native is a committed Western New Yorker.

In fact, when he graduated with a bachelor's degree in biology from UB in 2012, he had planned to attend medical school in Virginia. But as the date for his departure grew near, the lifelong Western New Yorker was increasingly reluctant to move, a story he recounted vividly as the class speaker at the April 29 commencement ceremony of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. He was added to the waiting list at the UB medical school, where he had previously been accepted.

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rnBm8k6NteQ&feature=youtu.be (Edwards' speech can be viewed from 39:00 to 53:30.)

The night before the new semester, Edwards said, "I began to wonder if I had made the worst decision in my life. ... I put my phone on silent, thinking nothing of importance would come through the hotline."

He was awakened by his mother, calling him frantically to come to the phone, where he received the news that, on the first day of medical school, another student had suddenly forfeited his spot. To his utter amazement and relief, Edwards realized he would be starting medical school that day, after all.

"I went into school with the attitude that this is such a gift," Edwards said. That feeling only grew stronger throughout his four years in medical school. He gives high marks to his fellow students and to the school's faculty and staff, all of whom he said contribute to the experience.

"It starts with admissions, under Dr. Severin. He builds the culture we grow up with in medical school," Edwards said. "And the culture here is that we all help each other. There's never any scintilla of backstabbing or anything like that. It's more like a think tank. Even the kids who are at the top of the class, they're sharing their study summaries with everyone else. The way they teach us here is that medicine is a team effort. It's not a skill you can master alone."

During Edwards' graduation speech, he advised his fellow graduates this way: "Call me idealistic, call me naïve, call me overoptimistic, but this is the best job in the world. Remember that first feeling when you got the news that you got into medical school. I know how well it works for me, because I was so close to not being here to address all of you wonderful people."

Founded in 1846, the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo is beginning a new chapter in its history with the largest medical education building under construction in the nation. The eight-story, 628,000-square-foot facility is scheduled to open in 2017.

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