A white coat has been the most common symbol of the medical profession for more than a century. Students from the University of Missouri School of Medicine class of 2026 took their first steps toward becoming physicians during a White Coat Ceremony on July 29, 2022.
We invited five students from the Class of 2026 to share what their white coats mean to them.
Zayd Al Rawi – Columbia, MO
As my class and I started orientation and began learning about each other’s unique motivations for becoming physicians, it was clear that our common goal is to provide top-quality care for our patients. The environment created by the faculty and staff made us even more excited to begin this journey. Ending the week with the white coat ceremony felt surreal for many of us as we each spent years of hard work to get here. As we took the oath of Geneva wearing our white coats for the first time, it set in that I was finally joining the medical profession. This moment was a very humbling and honorable experience as I pledged my life to the service of humanity.
For me, receiving my white coat was a remarkable moment as I became one step closer to my dreams. As a first-generation American from a Middle Eastern immigrant family, the journey to medical school itself was difficult. All medical students face challenges as we come from diverse backgrounds, different economic statuses and experience unique life events that shape our futures. When I visited Iraq, I was always aware of the lack of physicians and medical resources. This opened my eyes to the underserved communities here in the United States as well and is where my dream of becoming a physician in underserved communities began. I want to be a physician who is committed to serving the community I work in and is dedicated to providing quality, patient-centered care regardless of a patient’s background. I feel honored to be a part of the University of Missouri School of Medicine, as they emphasize working with underserved populations, understanding the community we serve, and providing patient-centered care to each patient. Although the medical school journey is difficult, I am excited to take this next step toward my dream and I’m grateful to be supported by my family and mentors. I hope my journey can serve as motivation for other underrepresented students to follow their dreams, no matter how difficult they seem.
Michaela Thomson - Jefferson City, Missouri
Donning the white coat feels like a continuation and a new beginning, all at the same time, in the city I have grown to love so much. I will wear this coat with pride as I close the chapter on my undergraduate and post-grad years, and begin a new one through medical school, all while continuing my dedication to the Columbia community.
I’m so grateful for my Mizzou undergraduate experience and every single person who has poured into my development and learning to lead me to where I am today. From my involvement with Tour Team, Homecoming, and Summer Welcome, to my academic and extracurricular mentors, my friends and biggest supporters, fellow researchers at Missouri Orthopaedic Institute, and many other community members and groups. While there were many difficulties along the way, there was also much to be celebrated. I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge all of my educators along the way: from my elementary teachers that fueled my curiosity about the world, to my middle school teachers who cultivated my passion for learning and helped me refine my interests to my high school teachers who pushed me academically and encouraged me to be a leader.
To me, Mizzou is so much more than just a school- it is belonging. I hope to continue my involvement now in the school of medicine and to cultivate a sense of belonging among my class and through my efforts as a physician. I’m committed to my education and being a lifelong learner for both the betterment of myself and the practice of medicine. I’m grateful that so many people have invested in me and my education and now, in turn, I will give back to my patients and medical research.
The MU School of Medicine cares deeply about shaping medical students into patient-centered physicians. Standing next to 127 future physicians was such a surreal moment, knowing we have all overcome obstacles to be standing together and that we can rely on each other for support over these next four years. My love of medicine and my community made completing two grueling application cycles, taking the MCAT twice, and navigating applying during the COVID-19 pandemic all worthwhile. Without Mizzou and everyone that has touched my life, I wouldn’t be where I am today. This is the first place I feel like I can truly be myself and I want to extend that feeling to others in my class and in service to my patients. I’m proud to be a gay doctor and hope to extend the sentiment of being seen and heard to all my patients, no matter their identity or their background. I know that the medical school instructors and mentors will continue to encourage and teach me, just as educators before them, and for future classes of medical students.
Brooklyn Campbell – Kansas City, Missouri
As I worked in health care over my gap years, I realized how rare it was to see multiple African American physicians in a healthcare setting. I was often the only Black person involved in a patient’s healthcare experience. This was significant because a couple of patients expressed how comfortable they felt seeing another person belonging to a minority group participate in their care experience. My passion for representation and diversification within medicine are the reasons I am a medical student today. I also have passions for health literacy, health equity and interest in resolving health disparities in underrepresented communities. As I listened to Dr. Gause deliver the keynote speech, I was inspired. I realized my white coat means I am presented with the opportunity to break down barriers as a Black physician and can contribute to a more equitable healthcare system.
Before medical school, I had the pleasure of working with physicians who demonstrated utmost empathy and commitment to their patients. This week during orientation, we had small group discussions amongst my class regarding the kind of physicians we wanted to be. I had a few ideas from observing traits I wanted to exemplify in the physicians I worked for. However, my classmates presented many great ideas of qualities of physicians that I hadn’t even considered. As I reflected on their statements, I realized that as I begin medical school this is a new beginning full of potential. I am learning what it means to provide patient-centered care, to collaborate with others and to be a role model for young Black girls with similar dreams. Throughout medical school, I want to challenge myself to become that type of physician who encompasses all of these key characteristics.
Samantha Metzger, a fourth-year MU medical student, also spoke at our ceremony and expressed how it is a privilege to wear our white coats and I could not agree more. When the white coat was placed on my shoulders, I felt a shift and was overwhelmed with emotion. This journey was no longer about me, as I will soon be entrusted with the honor and responsibility of caring for patients. I am proud, grateful and humbled to be able to have this role in patient care. Lastly, this coat is a reminder that although I am capable of making my dreams a reality, I could not do so without the support of my faith, family and friends.
Diego Gamoneda – Miami, Florida
The journey to my white coat was rooted in perseverance, passion and dedication to my future craft. I am the first in my family to graduate from college in the United States. My mother and father immigrated from Venezuela and Cuba when I was young in hopes of a better future for my brother and me. My parents made significant sacrifices to put me in a position to be successful. They worked very hard to make sure I had all the resources to actualize my dreams. I am forever indebted to them for what they have done for me. This white coat is a reminder of all the people that have helped me get to this point. I am so grateful for the family, friends, mentors, and professors that pushed me to be a better student, and more importantly, a better person. It truly takes a village. I wear this coat for them and the patients that I will serve.
I am excited to begin this new chapter of my life here at the University of Missouri. My experience here so far has been amazing. The faculty are passionate and dedicated to making my classmates and I the best physicians we can be. The staff is highly supportive and always looking out for us. My class is diverse and it is composed of some of the most dedicated, compassionate people I’ve ever met. The facilities offered here at MU are world-class and constantly improving. MU fosters an environment that will allow me to reach my maximum potential as a future physician.
My goal is simple: I want to be the best physician I can be to take care of my future patients. The school of medicine will help me on this path to becoming a compassionate, knowledgeable physician.
Dylan Hood – Jefferson City, Missouri
When I put on my white coat for the first time, it became clear to me the coat draped over my shoulders represented the conclusion of one journey and the emergence of another. Throughout orientation week, my classmates and I had the opportunity to not only reflect on our own path to medicine but also discuss each other’s journeys considering the key characteristics of a physician outlined by the University of Missouri School of Medicine. This reflective exercise helped me understand that although my classmates and I arrived at the same destination, the journey to our white coats was unique for each of us. The compilation of each one of our journeys to MU Med is what makes our class of aspiring physicians special. Although each of our journeys has been different, we are unified by our white coats. This is a garment that symbolizes the humanism and compassion we as future physicians must express to each of our patients.
My own journey to medicine was heavily influenced by being able to witness the empathy and compassion shared between a physician and a patient. Understanding the impact a patient-centered physician can make in the progression of health in not only an individual but also a community fueled my determination to become a doctor. The constant support of my family and friends gave me the confidence to push through challenging times and their continued support will be paramount in this next phase of my life as a medical student. As I prepare to start this new journey, I look forward to building relationships with my fellow classmates, teachers and most importantly my future patients.