JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- A San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium graduation ceremony was held June 7 at the Lila Cockrell Theatre in downtown San Antonio.

The ceremony honored 47 fellows and 149 residents from 34 graduate medical education programs and 37 graduates from 11 graduate allied healthcare education programs.

"Today's graduation ceremony truly is a reflection of our current military health system with graduates and leadership representing each of the armed services as well as the Public Health Service and civilians," said Dr. Woodson Scott Jones, dean of SAUSHEC.

SAUSHEC is the organization responsible for military graduate medical education and graduate allied health education in San Antonio with two major training sites at Brooke Army Medical Center and the 59th Medical Wing.

The keynote speaker for the event was Vice Adm. Raquel Bono, director of the Defense Health Agency.

Bono congratulated the graduates on their accomplishment and honored their family members for their support during their training.

"You have completed this arduous, rigorous process to gain a certain level of credibility," she said. "That is a large part of what we are celebrating here, your significant accomplishment in completing your various programs."

Bono provided advice to the graduates as they move forward into their new responsibilities.

"Always challenge conventional wisdom," she said. "Things change at a very rapid pace especially in a health care world. In order for you to be at the top of your game, and give your patients the kind of care they deserve, you need to always be willing to challenge conventional wisdom."

She reminded them to be authentic, be themselves.

"Your patients can tell when you're not being authentic," Bono said. "This is an important responsibility as a care provider, because you will walk into many patient rooms and without even knowing you, your patients will automatically trust you."

Bono also encouraged them to continue to learn.

"Be very discerning about what you see and what you hear moving forward," she said. "Don't be quick to jump upon what everyone else is talking about."

"Being a leader is all about making change happen," Bono said. "As leaders, continue to embrace change and help us develop a health care system that our patients so richly deserve. You represent our hope for the future."

Along with the graduation certificates, six Commander's Awards for Research and five Merit Awards were also presented.

Army Maj. Tyson Sjulin, pulmonary/critical care fellow, received the Commander's Award for Fellow Clinical Research.

"This represents the hard work of the entire research team and especially (Air Force) Col. (Richard) Strilka," Sjulin said. "This award further motivates our team to continue to advance medicine with further prospective randomized clinical research."

Air Force Maj. Wassem Juakiem, gastroenterology fellow, received the Commander's Award for Quality Improvement and Patient Safety.

"I'm proud to be recognized for the hard work and accomplishments," Juakiem said. "I am very proud of the education I have received at SAUSHEC."

Juakiem said he couldn't have done it without the support of his wife Noha.

"I remembered all the extra hours spent away from my family, all the patient interactions and procedures, it really solidified that sense of accomplishment," he said.