White Coat Ceremonies 2014
| Aug 26, 2014 1:00 PM
Most physicians, dentists, pharmacists, nurses, and physician’s assistants in practice have never experienced the White Coat ceremony that our first year medical students and dental students at the University of Utah celebrated this week. The observance is a relatively new tradition, starting in the late 1990’s at many Universities. Its purpose is to induct new students into their respective health profession, emphasizing the humanity of health care. Students are asked to recite the Hippocratic Oath, the Dental student pledge or some other promise to remind them that even though they are not yet fully qualified professionals, they represent the profession. Their integrity in working with some of the most private and consequential intimacies of our patients’ lives must be of the highest caliber.
The ceremony is also a wonderful celebration, capping off years of hard work by these students to attain a coveted admission into the professional school of their dreams—such as dental school, medical school, the Pharm. D program, nursing programs, physicians assistant program and others. It is a way for us as an institution—faculty, staff, fellow students, administration, and community—to welcome our newest talent and to encourage them to be a part of our family. White Coat ceremonies are times full of hope and excitement and perhaps a bit of trepidation. They signify new beginnings.
For our School of Dentistry, under the leadership of Dean Rena D’Souza, this year’s event was our second white coat ceremony in the school’s history. Many of the seasoned second year students, donning their “inaugural class of 2017” white coats, were in attendance in the Rice-Eccles stadium to welcome 22 new students comprising the Class of 2018. Thanks to a very generous gift from Scott Anderson and Zions Bank, made in honor of the attending Dinesh and Kalpana Patel, two students who were admitted to the Class of 2018 received full scholarships. For the Class of 2017 the scholarship awards were equally divided among the 20 students.
Following a tribute to his parents, Brent Noorda, delivered an inspiring, edifying and at times hysterical keynote speech. To say that his speech will go viral, now posted on YouTube, would be a modest prediction. Unafraid to speak the unspoken, Brent started off by acknowledging the discomfort most people feel when seeing a dentist (Observation #1—you all don’t need to be liked and #2 don’t forget for your patients--pain medication is your friend). Among his most important lessons, was the moment he encouraged students to commit to a life of service (“don’t aspire to become a dentist who works three days a week and plays golf four”). His closing musical number (demonstrating the melodic abilities of his teeth) was something none of us present will ever forget. The Noorda family’s generosity has enabled us to realize the dream of starting a new Dental School for the state, and their ongoing encouragement and support have been remarkable. The students will begin moving into the Ray and Tye Noorda Oral Health Sciences building this winter for their clinical teaching and we look forward to the official ribbon cutting April 8, 2015.
Our medical school white coat ceremony welcomed Reverand France Davis, and members of his Calvary Baptist Choir as special guests. Both the choir performance and Pastor Davis’s remarks received standing ovations. Pastor (and Professor) Davis’s remarks, delivered with a clarity and passion second to none, started with a history of his own upbringing in a small rural farm town of Gough, Georgia.
He shared his perspectives gained from his work as a chaplain who has been in many hospitals and has seen first hand the work the students would be embarking on. He exhorted the students to be giving, to be empathetic, and (like Brent Noorda) to care for those who need it the most. As the second expanded medical school class of 102 students entered on stage to receive their white coats, their new stethoscopes from the Alumni Association, and their Arnold P. Gold Foundation Humanism in Medicine lapel pins, the moment marked the receipt of their first bookend. Before we know it, we will celebrate the other bookend, graduation. They’ll be a little bit older, a lot wiser, and ready for yet another new beginning. Hopefully, they will always feel a part of the University of Utah family. I’m getting ahead of myself—before that, they will all have to tackle their first week of classes.
Author: Vivian S. Lee, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A.
About the Author: Dr. Vivian S. Lee is the Senior Vice President for Health Sciences at the University of Utah, Dean of the University of Utah School of Medicine, and CEO of University of Utah Health Care. Read her full bio herecomments powered by Disqus