For Dr. Jen Arnold, having the power to heal also comes with great responsibility.
Speaking to the 2014 graduating class of West Coast University in Irvine, California, on Sunday, the star of TLC’s The Little Couple shared her own experiences growing up with skeletal dysplasia and developing a strong bond with her own surgeon, as she had to have dozens of surgeries throughout the years.
“Each of you graduates has the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others through your profession,” she told a crowd of more than 4,000, including 650 graduates entering the healthcare field. “Now that you have the power to heal, can you maintain the courage to be humble?”
Arnold, who recently renewed her wedding vows with husband of six years Bill Klein, is a neonatologist at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, the same city where the couple reside with their son Will, 4, and daughter Zoey, 2.
She told the graduating class that though they had worked hard to graduate, they should avoid feeling entitled.
“We are surrounded in media today with those personifications of doctors and nurses who promote this sense of entitlement, as well,” she said.
“Think about House M.D., who knows it all, or Dr. ‘McDreamy,’ the sexy take-charge surgeon in the OR. We are surrounded by those personifications in healthcare. 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.”
The doctor and new mother of two has experienced her own share of medical care as a patient, not only for surgeries as a child to treat her skeletal dysplasia but in her recent treatment for a rare cancer. After undergoing intensive chemotherapy, Arnold is now in remission.
“You each have the opportunity to change people’s lives,” Arnold told the graduating class. “It’s okay to not know it all, to not be perfect.”
For Dr. Arnold’s full commencement speech, see below.