Rite of Passage: Over 100 New Students Receive White Coats at Traditional Ceremony

Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine
White coats for Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine Class of 2018

The Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Medicine presented 101 new medical students with white coats at a special ceremony held in the John Cranford Adams Playhouse at Hofstra University on Friday, October 10. The White Coat Ceremony marks the beginning of a medical student’s transformation from a student to a professional.

The white coats were ceremoniously draped on the students by the school’s senior advisors, or Society Masters. Society Masters are senior clinical faculty members who serve as longitudinal academic mentors for the medical students.

"The Class of 2018 marks another first for the School of Medicine--we've reached full capacity with enrollment throughout all four years," said Lawrence Smith, MD, MACP, founding dean of the School of Medicine in welcome remarks at the White Coat Ceremony. "We are a new school with a short track record but we've accomplished a lot, including the evolution of a forward-thinking, highly recognized curriculum, and a student body that is a true reflection of our nation's growing diversity."

The new class consists of 46 women and 55 men, ranging in age from 21 to 36 years old, making it the School of Medicine's largest class thus far. It is also the most diverse, including students from various regions of the country, socioeconomic backgrounds, races and cultures. Together, these aspiring professionals will work with the School of Medicine's dedicated faculty to become the next physician-scientists who will transform the way medicine is practiced and passed on to future generations.

"The white coat is a symbolic milestone in every medical student’s career and the first leg of the road to becoming a physician,” said Veronica Catanese, MD, MBA, Vice Dean and Dean for Academic Affairs at the School of Medicine. “It also marks the beginning of a lifelong journey of transformation and discovery as an individual and professional."

The tradition of the White Coat Ceremony began in 1993 at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. Dr. Gold, a teacher and pediatric neurologist for more than 40 years at Columbia, noted at the 1991 commencement ceremony that students were reciting the Hippocratic Oath “four years too late.” Dr. Gold believed that it was much more apropos for students to receive their white coats and take the Oath when they begin their medical training, particularly given that the initial years of training includes first contact with patients.

This year's White Coat Ceremony coincided with an announcement that the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS), a signature program established by the Gold Foundation, will become an official part of the residency application and screening process effective in 2016.  More than (need number) students at the School of Medicine have been inducted into the society. "We are pleased that the next step in training will recognize the importance of nurturing the caring physician," said David Battanelli, MD, Dean for Medical Education. "That is, an individual who can demonstrate compassion for patients and professionals."

Following the White Coat Ceremony, the School of Medicine looks ahead with anticipation of other pivotal milestones in early 2015, including the opening of its new building; the first Match Day, a day in which fourth-year students receive their residency assignments; and the graduation of its inaugural class on May 11.

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