The White Coat Ceremony

Unlike some academic events that encompass centuries of tradition, the White Coat Ceremony was initiated by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation on August 20, 1993, at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, where Dr. Arnold Gold has been a teacher and pediatric neurologist for more than 40 years. After only 17 years, a White Coat Ceremony or similar rite of passage takes place at more than 90 percent of schools of medicine and osteopathy in the United States, as well as at all four medical schools in Israel.

The event emphasizes the importance of both scientific excellence and compassionate care for the patient. The cloaking with the white coat—the mantle of the medical profession—is a hands-on experience that underscores the bonding process. 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.

At UMass Medical School, in the presence of family, guests and faculty members, incoming first-year medical students are welcomed into the medical community and presented with their white coats by their Learning Community mentors. The first White Coat Ceremony at the University of Massachusetts Medical School took place in 2010.