Students from the University of Missouri School of Medicine class of 2023 took their first steps toward becoming physicians during a White Coat Ceremony this afternoon at Jesse Hall on the University of Missouri campus.
“The white coat signifies a covenant to knowledge, skills, mutual respect and humanity,” said Steven Zweig, MD, dean of the MU School of Medicine. “It’s a symbol that is universally recognized and carries with it a commitment to patient-centered care and clinical excellence.”
The class of 2023 consists of 112 students. Of this class, 34 percent of students self-identified as an ethnic minority. This includes students who are Asian, black, Latino, American Indian or Pacific Islander.
A goal of medical schools across the nation is to increase enrollment of traditionally underrepresented students, and 17 percent of students in the MU class of 2023 self-identified as underrepresented minorities.
The MU School of Medicine received 3,366 applications for the class of 2023, marking the highest number of applications ever received by the school. In addition, 22 percent of students are from socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds, 16 percent are from rural areas and 86 percent are from Missouri.
At the ceremony, 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 annual event encourages new medical students to begin their education by upholding the highest values and standards of their profession.
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, MD, 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.