The White Coat Ceremony is the symbolic beginning of the four-year journey into the medical profession, and a formal welcome of 170 outstanding scholars to the prestigious University of Michigan Medical School.
Associate Dean for Student Programs Elizabeth Petty, M.D., and Assistant Dean for Admissions Steven E. Gay, M.D., welcomed students and their families and Dean James O. Woolliscroft, M.D., presided over the ceremony held Aug. 3 at Rackham Auditorium. Rackham is a landmark for success, and the place where Michigan researchers announced to the world the effectiveness of the polio vaccine, one of the greatest advances in modern medicine.
This year’s keynote speaker Robert N. Hensinger, M.D., the William S. Smith Collegiate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery, said the first-year medical students’ futures would be based on similar collaborations and team work.
“Until now you’ve advanced by being the best and you’ve enjoyed the advantages of being No. 1,” he told the group whose average GPA is 3.7 and MCAT scores at 11.6.
“What becomes apparent in this segment of your education is that optimal patient outcomes will come from collaboration,” Hensinger said. “Successful treatment often crosses specialty lines.”
While the White Coat ceremony was largely stylistic, it had meaning – in granting students a new identity and marking their entry into their professional education. No other item is more closely identified with doctors and scientists than the white coat.
“We don’t expect you to put it on and be transformed into a physician, but we do expect you to grow – intellectually – and in time the coat will feel appropriate. There’s a lot of work involved from both you and faculty to get your coat to fit.”
The ceremony was sponsored by the U-M Medical School and the University of Michigan Medical Center Alumni Society.