The UMMS White Coat Ceremony: A new tradition with a unique spin By Ellie Castano UMass Medical School Communications
On Friday, Sept. 16, 125 of the newest members of the UMass Medical School community will take part in a ceremony that signifies the beginning of their journey to become medical professionals. At the White Coat Ceremony in the Convocation tent at 3:30 p.m., students in the School of Medicine class of 2015 will be presented with their white coats to signify the beginning of their clinical training. Last year was the first time that UMMS held a White Coat Ceremony, and 2010 was also the year that the new Learner-centered Integrated Curriculum was launched. As a way to make the tradition unique and to tie it to the new curriculum—which is centered on Learning Communities that serve as academic homes for the students throughout their four years here—the white coats were presented to the medical students by their Learning Community mentors. That tradition will continue this year as well, but with a special twist: in addition to the mentor, another individual chosen by the student will help present the coat. Once all the coats have been presented, the students will recite an oath written by members of the Class of 2013 and recited at their April 2011 Second-Year Oath ceremony. It is used by members of the Class of 2015 to emphasize not only their commitment to the guiding principles they will follow from their first day of training but also their commitment to the inter-class interaction espoused by the Learning Communities. Observant audience members will notice a change in the color of the lighting during the ceremony. Each Learning Community house is associated with a particular color—Kelley House is green, for example—and that color will be lighting the background when students from that house cross the stage. A relatively new tradition for medical students, the White Coat Ceremony was started in 1993 by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. The tradition emphasizes the importance of both scientific excellence and compassionate care for the patient, according to the foundation. The white coat is placed on each student's shoulders by individuals who represent the value system of the school and the new profession the students are about to enter. The white coats that will be presented on Friday are a gift from the SOM Class of 2011.
This year’s keynote speaker is Darrell G. Kirch, MD, president and chief executive officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges and chairman of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Special Medical Advisory Group. For more information, visit the Convocation speaker’s webpage.
Related link on UMassMedNow: White Coat 2010: Students urged to view white coats as ‘an opportunity to reveal your compassion’Nationally known cancer specialists to speak at Convocation