August 17, 2016

New medical students welcomed at annual White Coat Ceremony

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White coat 2016 recapRicky Seeber, 22 of Montgomery, decided he wanted to attend medical school at UAB for myriad reasons. Growing up in Montgomery, Seeber said it seemed that UAB was the “nerve center” for medical care in the state.

“UAB was always seen as the place to go for medical care, and it was the place I wanted to be to study medicine,” Seeber said. “It’s a great school with a great reputation, and I’m proud to have UAB as our state institution.”

The 186 students in the Class of 2020 were welcomed to the UAB School of Medicine and presented their first white coats at the annual White Coat Ceremony on Sunday, Aug. 14 at UAB’s Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. The ceremony marks the end of roughly three weeks of medical school orientation and the new students' first class, Patient, Doctor and Society, which focuses on the role that physicians play in society, with emphasis on professionalism, compassion, responsibility, ethics and the doctor/patient relationship.

Kristina Tymes, of New Jersey., says she chose the School of Medicine because she wanted research to be a part of her training, and felt that the atmosphere and rigor of UAB was a good fit for her personality. Tymes, who had attended summers in the Preparation for Graduate and Medical Education (PARAdiGM) Program, is earning her M.D. and Ph.D. in the Medical Scientist Training Program.

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 of the compassion necessary to practice medicine.

Kevin J. Leon, M.D., associate dean for undergraduate medical education and keynote speaker for the ceremonytalked about the many ways medical school teaches students about themselves, calling medical school “a journey of self-discovery.”

“Upon entering medical school, each of you brings with you your own personality, your personal values, beliefs and your own life experiences. Our goal is not to change who you are—we like who you are, that’s why you’re here,” Leon said. “Rather our goal is to cultivate and guide your personal and professional growth.”

This year’s incoming class represents 52 areas of study from 53 colleges and universities. The admissions committee reviewed more than 3,800 applications to select the 479 prospective students to interview for the 186 selected.

The students filed onto the stage of UAB’s Alys Stephens Center’s Jemison Concert Hall, where their names were read and deans helped them into their white coats, provided by the Medical Alumni Association. Each student was given a pin signifying humanism in medicine, a gift from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, and greeted personally by Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., F.A.C.S, senior vice president for Medicine and dean of the UAB School of Medicine.

“The White Coat Ceremony is a significant milestone in a student’s journey to becoming a physician, and I congratulate our students on the accomplishments they have achieved,” Vickers said. 

This year, Salmaan Z. Kamal of Tuscaloosa, was named the second recipient of the Sara Crews Finley, M.D., Leadership Scholarship, an honor awarded to upcoming third-year students who demonstrate exceptional academic and leadership abilities. Established in October 2014 by her family, the scholarship honors the legacy Sara Crews Finley, a pioneer in medical genetics, beloved faculty member and student mentor. 

Former Gov. Albert P. Brewer and Martin J. Heslin, M.D., the James P. Hayes Endowed Professor of Gastrointestinal Oncology presented the Brewer-Heslin Endowed Award for Professionalism in Medicine to Desiree E. Morgan, M.D., vice chair for education and residency program director in the UAB Department of Radiology. The award, established by Brewer in 2015, is presented annually to recognize faculty physicians who uphold the highest standards of professionalism in medicine. 

Earlier in the day at a special reception, the Medical Alumni Association presented the Martha Myers Role Model Awards to three physicians who have made great contributions to medicine and patient care. The recipients were Garry W. Magouirk, M.D., a beloved physician in the Berry and Fayette communities who has served as a longtime preceptor and member of the School of Medicine Admissions Committee; Daniel C. Potts, M.D., F.A.A.N., a neurologist, author and founder of Cognitive Dynamics, a foundation dedicated to improving quality of life in dementia through expressive arts and storytelling; and Michael S. Vaughn, M.D., A.B.P.M., founder of MedHelp P.C., the first urgent care/family practice in Alabama.  

The winners of the Brewer-Heslin Award and the Finley Leadership Scholarship were also recognized at the reception, along with the students who are being inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society.