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White Coat Ceremony Marks Start of Professional Journey for 104 Students

New students receive 'cloak of compassion' and pledge to uphold medicine's highest values

Members of the University of Missouri School of Medicine Class of 2019 took their first steps toward becoming physicians during a White Coat ceremony this afternoon at Jesse Hall on the University of Missouri campus.

The annual event encourages new medical students to begin their education by upholding the highest values and standards of their profession.

The students were presented with their first white coats, the most common symbol of the medical profession for more than a century, in front of hundreds of their family members and friends.

The class of 2019 consists of 104 students. From this class, eight to 12 students will complete their third and fourth years of medical education at the clinical campus in Springfield, Missouri.

“The University of Missouri has developed one of the nation’s most progressive medical education programs with a goal of educating physicians to provide effective patient-centered care for the people of Missouri and beyond,” said Patrick Delafontaine, M.D., the Hugh E. and Sarah D. Stephenson Dean of MU School of Medicine. “Our goals and missions, along with our expanding campus, attract great students from Missouri to attend medical school, then stay and work in Missouri as physicians. The class of 2019 is a strong example: 78 percent of the students are Missouri residents.”

The class size will increase to 128 in 2017, with the completion of the Patient-Centered Care Learning Center in Columbia. Groundbreaking for the new facility was held earlier this month. The clinical campus in Springfield is a joint effort between MU, CoxHealth and Mercy in Springfield.

“The white coat is the profession’s coat of compassion,” said Linda Headrick, M.D., senior associate dean for education at the MU School of Medicine. “We want them to always think about the first time they put on this important symbol as student physicians and remember their pledge to carry forward our values of care and compassion.”

University of Missouri School of Medicine received 2,003 applications for the class of 2019. Class members are 49 percent female and 51 percent male and range from 20 to 45 years old.

As part of the students’ orientation during this first week of medical school, they took time to reflect on what inspired them to go to medical school and what kind of physician they want to be.

“These statements provide evidence that the class of 2019 and the MU School of Medicine faculty share the same vision for the kind of physicians who will graduate from this medical school,” said Headrick. “Before earning their medical degrees, the students will be well on their way to being able to deliver effective patient-centered care. They will not only share complete and accurate information with each patient but respect each individual’s perspectives, beliefs, values and cultures. They will also understand care choices belong to the patient; physicians are partnering with patients in the delivery of that care.”

The class decided on several statements that best represent their goals as a group, including “To be the physicians who empowers patients to be active participants in their health care” and “To be the physicians who go above and beyond to ensure quality and safety despite social, economic and cultural differences.”

The first White Coat Ceremony was conducted in 1993 at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. The ceremony was created by Arnold Gold, M.D., a pediatric neurologist, who called the white coat his profession’s “cloak of compassion.” The Arnold P. Gold Foundation estimates that a White Coat Ceremony or similar rite of passage is now held at more than 90 percent of schools of medicine and osteopathy in the United States, as well as at all four medical schools in Israel. The first White Coat Ceremony at MU occurred in 1997.

2015 White Coat Ceremony

2015 White Coat Ceremony

Click here for high-resolution photos of the White Coat ceremony. (.zip)

Posted July 31, 2015

MU Health Magazine


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