August 21, 2018

First-year medical students honored at annual White Coat Ceremony

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42348500680 6e0c7705b6 zOn Sunday, Aug. 12, the UAB School of Medicine welcomed 186 students in the entering class of 2018 and presented them with their first white coats at the annual White Coat Ceremony 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.

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.

Selwyn M. Vickers, M.D., FACS, senior vice president for medicine and dean of the School of Medicine, emceed the event and addressed the new students, “Today marks a significant milestone in the journey toward becoming a physician. It is the day when you receive your first white coat, which symbolizes your entrance into the medical profession.” He continued, “It is fitting that you receive your white coat in the presence of family, friends, faculty, and alumni— the people most invested in seeing you succeed.”

James Willig, M.D., MSPH, associate professor of Medicine and assistant dean for the Undergraduate Medical Education, was the event’s keynote speaker. In 2017, the student body selected Willig as the faculty recipient of the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award, which recognizes a faculty member and student each year for the value they place on humanism in the delivery of care to patients and their families.

This year’s incoming class represents 60 areas of study from 56 colleges and universities. The admissions committee reviewed more than 4,634 applications to select the 186 individuals for the entering class of 2018.

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 Vickers.

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This year, James Dixon Johns was named the 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 and beloved faculty member and student mentor.

Catherine Parker, M.D., assistant professor and co-director of the UAB Women in Surgery Program received the Brewer-Heslin Endowed Award for Professionalism in. The award, established by the late Alabama Governor Albert Brewer in 2015, is presented annually to recognize faculty physicians who uphold the highest standards of professionalism in medicine.

John Wheat, M.D. president of the Medical Alumni Association, presented the Martha Myers Role Model Awards to two physicians who have made great contributions to medicine and patient care. The recipients were Col. (Ret.) Robert L. Henderson, M.D., a former chief of Otolaryngology at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and Beverly Flowers, M.D., who currently serves as president of the Alabama Academy of Physicians.