July 17, 2017

White Coat Ceremony: What you need to know

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IMG 0277You may have noticed an event on your Vital Signs Calendar called “White Coat Ceremony.” Well, we want to pull the curtain back a minute and fill you in on what this ceremony is.

The White Coat Ceremony was designed by The Arnold P. Gold Foundation to formally welcome new students into the medical profession and to set clear expectations regarding their primary role as physicians by professing an oath. Today, the ceremony emphasizes the importance of compassionate care as well as scientific proficiency.

Currently, a White Coat Ceremony or a similar rite of passage takes place at 97 percent of AAMC-accredited schools of medicine in the United States and Canada, as well as at osteopathic schools of medicine and at schools in 13 other countries. At the ceremony, students are welcomed by their deans, the president of the hospital or other respected leaders who represent the value system of the school and the profession.

The cloaking with the white coat—the mantle of the medical profession—is a hands-on experience that underscores the bonding process. It is personally placed on each student’s shoulders by individuals who believe in the students’ ability to carry on the noble tradition of doctoring. It is a personally delivered gift of faith, confidence and compassion.

Schools hold this ceremony at varying times of their undergraduate medical students’ careers. At UAB, we hold this ceremony after the completion of your Patient, Doctor and Society course. It will be on Sunday, August 13 at the Alys Stephens Performing Arts Center. You’ll need to arrive there by 1 p.m. The ceremony will begin promptly at 2.

Some special guests will be there to give their congratulations to you, including Dean Vickers and your keynote speaker, Dr. Lisa Willett, director of the Tinsley Harrison Internal Medicine Residency Program and the 2016 winner of the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Faculty Award.

We ask that each student limit their guests to five. If you have family or friends far away, or who can’t attend for some reason, the ceremony will be streamed live online at http://www.uab.edu/medicine/whitecoat. You will get more details about the White Coat Ceremony during Orientation and PDS. However, any immediate questions or concerns can be sent to Leah Carpenter, carpenter@uab.edu