Left to right: Wais Makaj smiles while trying on a white coat for the first time; Aja Adama, Cam Salcedo, Krystal Ramos Barrera, and Angelina Kuzina pose together outside of the Hoehl Gallery on their first morning as med students; wooden nametags wait on a magnetized board for students to claim them on the first morning of Orientation Week; Wendy Memishian smiles at the camera while waiting in the Sullivan Classroom for the first day of med school to begin.

Larner Welcomes Class of 2026 Medical Students

by Michelle Bookless & Jennifer Nachbur


On Monday, August 8, the Larner College of Medicine welcomed 124 new medical students in the Class of 2026 to campus.

The new medical students are beginning their journey to become physicians amidst growing concerns of a physician and healthcare shortage not just in the United States, but world-wide. In a 2021 press release, the Association of American Medical Colleges noted an "estimated shortage of between 37,800 and 124,000 physicians by 2034, including shortfalls in both primary and specialty care." This shortage has been felt acutely during and made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Larner Dean Richard L. Page, M.D., echoed this message in a welcome message to the incoming medical students on social media. "The last couple of years have shown us the importance of medical professionals," he said, adding, "We need more doctors in the world—more great doctors—and we're convinced you will become the physicians you want to be." 

In the same message, Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education Christa Zehle, M.D., herself a former Larner medical student, noted that the students' varying perspectives and experiences would become crucial threads in the fabric of the Larner community, and benefit them as they learned to advocate for their patients and make necessary changes in the healthcare field.

Collage of photos from Orientation Week
(Counterclockwise, from top left) Ella Ansell and Henry Mitchell at the Deans' Welcome Reception in the UVM Davis Center's Grand Maple Ballroom; Taylor Laramee smiles excitedly while trying on a white coat for the first time; Peter Vien laughs while pushing a wheelbarrow during community service work; Meron Yishak poses, smiling, while trying on a white coat for the first time; Deepinder Singh and Anthony Vejar pose together at the Deans' Welcome Reception; a hand-painted sign at the Co-op Victory Garden in Burlington, Vt.'s Intervale.

The First Patient, PCR, & Wellness

From August 8 to 12, the first-year University of Vermont (UVM) medical students participated in Orientation – the first course of the Foundations level of the Vermont Integrated Curriculum.

Each day of the week was packed with activities and exercises to help the students become familiar with the facilities, technology, faculty, staff, and classmates they'll be interacting with over the next few years. Traditionally, the first day of Orientation is also the day the students meet their "first patient," during the "First Patient Simulation" exercise led by Chair of Pediatrics and Chief of the University of Vermont Children's Hospital Lewis First, M.D., M.S. This year, students who will be spending their clinical clerkship year at Larner's Connecticut campus also had an afternoon gathering to meet Connecticut campus Associate Dean Jonathan Rosen, M.D., and Assistant Dean for Students Ellen Kulaga, M.D., and get to know members of their cohort.

On Tuesday and Thursday, students met with their Professionalism, Communication, & Reflection (PCR) course groups and advisors. PCR is "a year-long course that is comprised of small, process-oriented discussion groups with a faculty preceptor once a week," focuses on themes including professionalism, self-awareness, personal wellness, communication with peers, colleagues, and patients, social and economic impacts on medicine, and emotional intelligence. The students also participated in wellness activities led by medical student ambassadors in the classes of 2025, 2024, and 2023 – heading out to local mountains to hike and explore the woods of Vermont, rock climb, play tennis, practice yoga, and more.

Collage of Orientation Week Wellness Activities
Larner Class of 2026 medical students participating in various wellness activity outings throughout Orientation week.

Finding Their Common Ground & Community Service

Each year, the Wednesday of Orientation Week primarily focuses on topics of social justice, healthcare equity, and diversity, and sessions are sponsored and led by the Larner Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

Prior to arriving on campus, students are required to complete the Intercultural Development Inventory® (IDI®), a research-based "cross-cultural assessment of intercultural competence." After completing the IDI®, "students are provided a customized plan that they can use for increasing their level of cultural humility and development over their medical school career and beyond," says Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Tiffany Delaney, MA.Ed. "Developing these skills is important to their interactions within their class cohort as well as in their work as future physicians working with diverse patient populations," she says.

In addition to PCR and wellness activities, students also participated in community service projects on Tuesday and Thursday with community partners around the greater Burlington area. Students worked to lay down mulch, fix fence posts, paint identification labels, and do a late-summer cleanup of the Tommy Thompson Community Garden and the Co-Op Victory Garden in the Intervale for Burlington Parks & Recreation and the Vermont Garden Network. They also volunteered at the Howard Center and Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity's ReStore.

Collage of portrait photos of Angela Khadka, Devin Hebert, Christopher Kruglik, and Maisie Laud.
Left to right: Angela Khadka, Devin Hebert, Christopher Kruglik, and Maisie Laud.

Meet the Class of 2026

Student in the Class of 2026 were selected from 9,340 applicants, more than six percent more than the previous year. Over a quarter of the new med students are Vermonters, 19 percent identify as LGBTQA+, and 61 percent of class members identify as female. In addition, 20 percent of UVM's newest medical students identify as coming from a lower socio-economic background and 23 percent identify as people underrepresented in medicine – referred to in higher education as “URiM” – and defined by the AAMC as "racial and ethnic populations that are underrepresented in the medical profession relative to their numbers in the general population...[including] African-American/Caribbean-American; Mexican-American; Native-Americans (American-Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians); Central and South Americans; and Puerto Ricans." 

Among the members of UVM's newest medical school class are:

Angela Khadka

Angela Khadka

Angela Khadka was born and grew up in a refugee camp in Nepal, where her family had resettled after leaving their home country of Bhutan due to an ethnic cleansing policy. She moved to the U.S. when she was 10 years old, and now lives in Essex Junction, Vt. A graduate of the University of Vermont, she earned a bachelor's degree in biology in 2019. Khadka says she was inspired to become a physician as a child after witnessing the deaths of family and friends from treatable medical conditions due to cost-prohibitive medicine, scarcity of medical supplies and other resources, and a shortage of trained medical professionals at the refugee camp.

In college, Khadka worked as a residential instructor at the Howard Center in a specialized group home for women with intellectual and developmental disabilities. After graduating, she worked as a respite provider for a non-verbal autistic person and as a medical assistant for UVM Medical Center's outpatient cardiology clinic on Tilley Drive where she says the team-based approach further solidified her desire to pursue a career in medicine. 

Khadka says she chose to pursue her degree at Larner because she believes "the medical education I get here will teach me how to become an advocate for my patients and community." Although she wants to keep her options open, Khadka says she is interested in primary care, and plans to stay in Vermont after graduating to work with vulnerable populations including New Americans and refugees.

As she begins her time at Larner, Khadka says, she's "most excited to meet her classmates and listen to their stories." "We're so diverse in so many ways, and everyone worked so hard to get here. We have a lot to learn from one another," she adds.

When Khadka isn't studying, she enjoys spending time with family, hiking Mount Mansfield, and traveling. She also volunteers in her Bhutanese/Nepali community, but mostly interprets for family members and relatives.

Devin Hebert

Devin Hebert is the third member of his family to attend UVM for medical school. His father, Christopher Hebert, M.D., is a 2002 alumnus of the college, and his grandfather, Joe Hebert, M.D., graduated from the college in 1974. Now, Devin is following in their footsteps.

From South Burlington, Vt., Hebert graduated from Hamilton College in central New York with a Bachelor of Arts degree in biology and government in 2020. After graduation, Hebert worked at Rick Marcotte Central School in South Burlington as an interventionist and in Thailand for the Council on International Educational Exchange's Teach Abroad program.

Despite the prevalence of physicians in his family, Hebert says it wasn't a forgone conclusion that he would also choose a career in medicine. Although Hebert doesn't remember exactly when, he says that eventually, as he continued to see the impact his father and grandfather had on members of their community, he realized he wanted to do the same. Additionally, although he had two alumni of the college in his family, he chose UVM for medical school primarily for its small community feel and because of its active learning curriculum. "Larner emphasizes collaboration with your peers through team-based learning - that really appealed to me and my personality," he says.

Hebert says that although he's not exactly sure what specialty he'll pursue, at the moment he is interested in pediatrics, surgery, and oncology.

Outside of the classroom, Hebert enjoys hiking, thrift-store and vintage shopping, and traveling.

Devin Hebert
Christopher Kruglik

Christopher Kruglik

Originally from Northford, Conn., Christopher Kruglik has lived in Burlington for the past several years and received a B.S. in biochemistry in 2019 and Master of Medical Science and Master of Public Health degrees in 2021 and 2022, respectively, from the University of Vermont.

Over the past few years, in addition to earning his M.M.S. and M.P.H., Kruglik worked through AmeriCORPs as a mentor for children from low-income and high-poverty neighborhoods with the DREAM program. He also served as a certified medical scribe for the UVM Medical Center's Emergency Department and at Vermont's Community Health Centers of Burlington as a medical assistant. Kruglik said these experiences were transformational for him and the reason why he ultimately decided on a career in medicine. The experiences have also fueled his desire to work for a federally-qualified health center in Vermont serving marginalized patient populations when he graduates. 

Kruglik didn't have to think hard about where he wanted to attend medical school. After receiving his undergraduate degree and both master's degrees from UVM, he said it was a "no-brainer." In addition to the faculty and staff he interacted with on campus, he worked closely with Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine Rachel Inker, M.D., at Community Health Centers of Burlington, and says her attentive, thoughtful, and compassionate care for those seeking gender-affirming health care, patients with opioid use disorder, and New American families was inspiring.

Over the next few years, Kruglik says he's excited to form meaningful connections with his classmates and hopes he can be a shoulder to lean on if any of them find themselves in need. He's planning on dual residency in internal medicine and pediatrics.

When Kruglik isn't focused on training to be a physician, he enjoys traveling, hiking, and cooking with family and friends.

Maisie Laud

From New Jersey and Vermont, Maisie Laud graduated from Boston College in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater. She also holds a Master of Medical Science degree from UVM.

Laud recalls her interest in medicine began when she broke her finger playing softball in eighth grade, resulting in a staph infection, many surgeries, and ultimately a partial amputation of the digit. Laud says that experience, as well as interactions with healthcare providers during a later Celiac Disease diagnosis, made her realize that "some of her favorite people in the world" were physicians, and she wanted to emulate their traits of candor and humility.

However, childhood feedback that she wasn't serious or smart enough to succeed in life held her back from initially following her dream. Instead, a sense of well-timed humor, her gregarious personality, and a love of acting led her down the path to becoming an actor and stand-up comedian. Ultimately, it was stand-up comedy that led her back to medicine. "I thought to myself, 'If I have the tenacity to go up on stage and tell jokes in front of people I don't know, I should have the grit to follow this dream," she recalls.

Laud chose Larner as the place to pursue her medical career because she liked the hands-on and team-based learning approaches that are the focal point of the curriculum. "As one of the older medical schools in the country, steeped in tradition, I was amazed to find that the College is also at the forefront of medical education with team-based learning and active learning," she says.

Laud is looking forward, with some trepidation, to scrubbing into her first surgery and is interested in a future career in surgery.

When she’s not in class or on stage, Laud works as a medical respite support staff member for the Community Health Centers of Burlington, as a medical assistant for UVM Medical Center Dermatology, and enjoys sewing.

Maisie Laud