Dr. Jennifer Arnold, co-star of the TLC hit series The Little Couple was the guest speaker at the West Coast University (WCU) commencement ceremony at the Bren Events Center in Irvine on Sunday, where more than 4,000 people gathered to celebrate with the 650 graduates in the WCU Class of 2014.
The physician and TV celebrity was born with a rare form of skeletal dysplasia and stands only 3-foot 2-inches tall, but she had a big message for graduates. She talked about her own experiences as a patient in her childhood, enduring some 30 orthopedic surgeries. It was the attentive, personal care of her surgeon that inspired her to pursue a career in medicine.
Her speech to the graduates, who are all entering the health care sector, was deeply personal and focused on reminding graduates that good patient care requires compassion and humility.
"Each of you, graduates, has the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others through your profession," she told them. "Now that you have the power to heal, can you maintain the courage to be humble?"
Dr. Arnold urged the graduates to avoid the sense of entitlement that is proliferated by the way doctors and nurses are portrayed on television.
"We are surrounded in media today with those personifications of doctors and nurses who promote this sense of entitlement as well. Think about House MD, who knows it all, or Dr. 'McDreamy' the sexy take-charge surgeon in the OR. We are surrounded by those personifications in health care, however patients not only come to you looking for answers, treatment, expertise and sometimes miracles, but what they need the most is humility and compassion."
Following her speech, Dr. Arnold was presented with a special commemorative plaque by University President Dr. Barry Ryan.
"Dr. Arnold connected with and inspired our graduates with her engaging style and powerful message," he said. "She is a remarkable person whose passion and commitment are obvious. Dr. Arnold is exactly the kind of person we seek as a commencement speaker. We share her values and applaud her courageous and humble spirit. She honored us with her presence and we shall be forever grateful."