It’s a symbol of their chosen profession. On August 3, 180 first-year medical students entering Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM) received their white coats, marking the beginning of their journey to become a physician.
Beneath a billowing white tent on Talbot Green, the students, surrounded by their families and friends, took part in the annual White Coat Ceremony – a medical tradition where students don, for the first time, their white coats and recite the Hippocratic Oath.
Angela Jackson, MD, associate dean for student affairs, kicked-off the ceremony; followed by Robert Witzburg, MD, associate dean for admissions, who shared some statistics regarding members of the 167th entering class of BUSM.
“Academically you are among the most accomplished class we have ever had, and you are also a very diverse group,” said Witzburg. “Thirty-six of the 50 states in America are represented in your class and the list of your places of birth includes 17 countries. Eighty-two percent of you are bilingual and, as a group, you speak a total of 27 different languages.”
Karen Antman, MD, BUSM dean and provost of the Boston University Medical Campus, candidly shared her insight about the inevitable challenges and situations that likely could arise for the new students, such as passing out during their first anatomy class or retaking their licensing exams. “That doesn’t mean you won’t be good physician,” she said.
“You’re about to embark on a great adventure with a steep learning curve,” she added.
Ravin Davidoff, MB, BCh, BUSM professor of medicine, and senior vice president for medical affairs and Chief Medical Officer at Boston Medical Center, delivered the keynote address.
After explaining the history and significance of the white coat to the new students, he emphasized that practicing medicine is a collaboration, as well as privilege.
“Medicine is a team sport. There is far too much for any of us to know to ever feel complacent. Each of you, as you move along the lifelong journey of learning and caring for patients will face the complex dilemma of clinical decision-making,” said Davidoff. “It is truly a glorious journey but it is challenging and daunting. From my perspective, the key to succeeding in this space is to always appreciate the privilege you have been granted to treat patients.”
Douglas Hughes, MD, associate dean for academic affairs, read the students’ names, promising to learn the pronunciations better before their graduation in four years, as assistant and associate deans helped the students put on their white coats.
After the coating, Jean Ramsey, MD, associate dean for alumni affairs, led students in reciting the Hippocratic Oath for the first time, signifying the beginning of their journey into the profession of medicine. They will recite it again at their May 2019 commencement, signifying their entrance into the practice of medicine.
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