White Coat Ceremony; Med School Just Got Real
The answer, I believe, is multifaceted and was given many times during the speeches throughout orientation and in the ceremony itself. If you’re reading this blog, you may not have sat through a White Coat Ceremony before, so I’ll fill you in on some of the take-home messages.
1. It’s a time to acknowledge the accomplishments that we have made so far in getting to this point. At my ceremony, they cited the statistic that out of over 6,600 applicants, we 160 matriculants were sitting in the chairs about to begin our medical school education. Statistically it was very unlikely that any of us would have gotten there by anything less than perseverance and tons of hard work. As a part of acknowledging our accomplishments, the students were encouraged to thank our families who supported us throughout our journey and who were present to watch our transition into our new career path. Lots of parents cried.
2. To mark a new level of professionalism and illustrate the new commitment we made to medicine. One of the major differences between entering undergrad and entering medical school is the focus on professionalism. What that means is that being a future doctor has certain privileges, but also responsibilities. No more messing around in class, showing up to clinic in sweatpants or posting stupid things on facebook. The white coat is symbolic of the shift towards professionalism that we all made.
3. Obviously the real reason is the opportunity for sweet photo ops. Immediately following the ceremony, my family, roommates, classmates and I engaged in enough photo-taking and uploading to blow up my facebook news feed for weeks. Everyone wants a picture of them and everyone around in their shiny, new white coats looking very official. It’s proof to the universe that you are, in fact, in medical school.