The 186 first-year medical students were honored at the White Coat Ceremony, signifying the students’ official introduction to a lifetime of medical education, on Sunday, Aug. 17 inside UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. The ceremonial presentation of white coats to medical students, created by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation in 1993, includes the signing of the oath of commitment to patient care that reminds incoming students of the dedication necessary to complete a medical education and underscores the responsibilities inherent in the practice of medicine.
UAB’s white coat ceremony marks the end of roughly three weeks of medical school orientation and the new students' first class, Patient, Doctor and Society. That class focuses on the role that physicians play in society, with emphasis on professionalism, compassion, responsibility, ethics and the doctor/patient relationship.
“This is the day that is the beginning of what we’ve all been working for the past four years, or more, of our lives, so this day solidifies all that we’ve worked so hard for,” Jani said. “The coat signifies camaraderie and shows that we’re officially part of the School of Medicine and the UAB medical community.”
This year’s incoming class represents 47 colleges and universities and 32 degrees of study. The admissions committee considered 3,000 applications and conducted more than 1,400 interviews of 456 candidates before selecting the class, according to Nathan Smith, M.D., assistant dean for students and admissions.
Amber Dixon, an M.D. / MPH student from Dothan, said receiving her white coat means that she’s on the road to saving lives of those in underserved populations.
“I wanted to come to medical school at UAB because I know the school’s dedicated to primary care and helping those who might not have the same access to healthcare as others have,” Dixon said. “Faculty at the school are dedicated to helping the whole community, not just certain parts.”
Corey Duke, a first-year medical student from Tecumseh, Okla., agreed the white coat signifies becoming a part of the medical community and said wearing it means taking on the responsibilities of a future physician.
The students filed onto the stage of Jemison Concert Hall inside the ASC, where representatives from the three branch campuses cloaked students with their white coats, provided by the Medical Alumni Association. Hussein Abdullatif, M.D., professor of Pediatrics and 2013 faculty recipient of the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine award, address the crowd as keynote speaker to emphasize the need for caring, compassion and empathy in the practice of medicine.
The MAA also presented the Martha Myers Role Model Award to David Charles Simpson, M.D., and Robert Martin Hagler, M.D.— two physicians who have made great contributions to patient care and to the medical profession. Simpson is a retired pediatrician in Vestavia Hills, and Hagler is an ob/gyn in Dothan.
The ceremony closed with the students reciting their class mission statement, written by the students themselves during their first class:
“As students of medicine, we dedicate ourselves to a life of selfless service. Upholding a belief of human dignity, we vow to embrace diversity, work collaboratively, learn diligently and serve compassionately. With humility and devotion, we will never forget our motivation for pursuing a career in medicine,” the mission states.