White Coat Ceremony Kicks Off Medical Students' Careers
Short white coats slung over their arms, one by one they descended down the Uris Auditorium steps to reach a new height in their medical careers.
|"It was really an amazing experience," said Samir Patel, 21, of Pa. "I never had the opportunity to attend a ceremony like this before, and witnessing my first lecture was inspiring and motivating."|
There they met Weill Cornell Medical College faculty, who helped them slip on their fresh coats — a symbol of dedication, responsibility and service — as beaming family gazed on.
The annual White Coat Ceremony Tuesday was a moment each of the 103 students who comprise the Weill Cornell Medical College Class of 2016 have anxiously anticipated since they first set their sights on a career in medicine. It marks the zenith of years of hard work, goal setting and preparation that led them to medical school. It's also a rite of passage, the start of a new journey on which these first-year medical students are about to embark.
|"It means something that feels bigger than me," said Chioma Enweasor, 23, of Calif. "I think it's always humbling to see the power that people believe that you'll do good with.
All photos: Janet Charles
"As students at Weill Cornell, you will be among the best prepared in the world to take on whatever the future holds," said Dr. Laurie H. Glimcher, the Stephen and Suzanne Weiss Dean of Weill Cornell Medical College. "You've already proven that you're smart and skilled and capable — otherwise you wouldn't be here. You're curious and open-minded, you're good communicators and colleagues, and as Weill Cornell students, you will have global opportunities and a world view that many others will not have."
|"It was really wonderful because being a physician is something I've wanted to do for a very long time," said Sandeep Raj. "This was sort of like a culmination of years and years of hard work. It's the start of my dream to become a doctor."|
For some students, such opportunities were present long before they entered Weill Cornell Medical College.
While an undergraduate student at Cornell University, David Byun, 22, of California, participated in the Travelers Summer Research Fellowship Program, spending the summer after his sophomore year volunteering in the Hearst Burn Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. That's when he knew that Weill Cornell was the place for him.
Sandeep Raj, 23, of New Jersey, who took a year off before medical school to work as a research assistant at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. An aspiring oncologist, Raj was drawn to Weill Cornell by its robust reputation for fostering research.
|"The process of becoming a doctor is not just a road to a job," said Dr. Shari Midoneck. "It is the beginning of a profession, a calling, if you will. You will have the power to influence people's lives every day."|
"I want a research-centric career in the end," Raj said. "And I definitely want to pursue a career as an academic physician. This place really fosters that kind of career goal."
|"It's a culmination of everything he has ever wanted to do, and we're very proud of him," said Deb Fidali, of N.C., who watched her son Brian, 23, receive his white coat.|
Each of them are following their dreams by earning a spot at Weill Cornell and donning a white coat shorter than those worn by physicians, but which is representative of their futures.
"It's by no coincidence that you will wear the same white coats that you wear today to take care of patients tomorrow, so the importance of this ceremony should be dedicated to your patients as much as it is to yourselves or family members," said Dr. Carlyle Miller, associate dean for student affairs and equal opportunity programs.
In addition to the white coats, students received stethoscopes, both of which were provided by the Buster Foundation's Paul F. Miskovitz '75 Stethoscope Fund for Medical Students.
|"I think it's pretty exciting," said Dr. Nerendra Trivedi, of Calif., as his son Nick, 22, received his white coat. "He's starting his medical career at one of the most prestigious medical schools. It's a very proud moment for Mom and Dad."|
Dean Glimcher administered the Hippocratic Oath, and students also received insight from Dr. Shari Midoneck, associate dean of academic affairs and associate professor in clinical medicine, and keynote speaker Dr. Barbara Hempstead, associate dean for the Office of Faculty Development and the O. Wayne Isom Professor of Medicine.
"You are becoming one of the esteemed members of a brotherhood and sisterhood of care providers and you will be developing many attributes that will transform you into an effective and compassionate physician," Dr. Hempstead said.
By the end of the ceremony Tuesday, Uris Auditorium was a sea of white.
|"I think it was a really important moment for me," said Matthew Conti, of Pa. "I've been working hard and I think all my classmates have been working hard for this moment for many years."|
"You never know when that one thing you're learning in class, or during rounds or speaking with your colleagues will actually make a difference in someone's life."
"The white coat, it's an incredible honor to even be selected to wear it," said Cindy Parra, 27, of California. "It's a second skin at this point now. It means that not just our patients but society at large has entrusted us with their care, not just for their person, but also their kids, their parents, their family members and their loved ones. To me, it means that I have this huge responsibility to learn as much as I can starting today, day one of medical school, and throughout my entire life."