The meaning behind your white coat
|Photo by Cliff Hollis, ECU News Services.|
New medical students are slipping on their short white coats, a momentous and exciting occasion that marks the beginning of their careers.
Often seen as a symbol of authority and professionalism, the white coat frequently is conferred on new students during a ceremony held at the very beginning of medical school. While every school hosts a white coat ceremony, not all schools host them at the same time. For example, new students at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine don’t receive their white coats until April. Many schools incorporate their own traditions into the ceremonies as well.
The ceremony signifies the beginning of students’ journeys to achieve the long white coat, when they are physicians. It also symbolizes professionalism, caring and trust, which they must earn from patients, according to a Virtual Mentor historical perspective on the doctor’s white coat.
The ceremony “welcomes those embarking on their medical careers to the community of physicians by giving them this powerful symbol of compassion and honor,” wrote the author, Vice Chair of Education and Faculty Affairs at New York University School of Medicine at March S. Hochberg, MD. “It also gives them a standard against which they must measure their every act of care to the patients who trust them.”
Check out how some medical schools are sharing their ceremonies on social media.
Share your white coat ceremony traditions: Does your medical school have a special ceremony? Tell us in a tweet to the AMA Medical Student Section (MSS) Twitter account, which we may then post on the AMA-MSS Facebook page.