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White Coat Ceremony and Medical Family Day Officially Welcome the Class of 2013 to the University of Maryland School of Medicine

Thursday, November 05, 2009

 Dr. Mel Sharoky, Class of 1976 alum and Chair of the Board of Visitors, congratulates daughter Catherine on her new coat.

Medical school is a long and difficult road, but the gratification that comes from earning an MD and helping others is worth all the sacrifice in the end. That was the take-away message for the families of first-year students who attended Medical Family Day on November 5, 2009. Medical Family Day gives family members a glimpse into what medical school is really like for their loved one, and is capped off by the White Coat Ceremony.

During the morning session, Dean E. Albert Reece, MD, PhD, MBA, gave an overview of the School of Medicine, and its rich history and success in patient care and research. Sheri Slezak, MD, an associate professor in the Department of Surgery, shared her perspective as both a teacher and a parent of a med school student (daughter Katie is in the class of 2012). Stephen Liggett, MD, Professor of Medicine, spoke of the exciting research being done at the school in such pioneering fields as genomics and personalized medicine. David Mallott, MD, Associate Dean of Medical Education, and Donna Parker, MD, Associate Dean for Student Affairs, filled parents in on just how hard medical school really is, but let the families know that help is available to their students whenever they need it, be it academic, physical or psychological.

Michael Grant, president of the Class of 2010, presented his view of medical school from a student perspective. “As you’ve already realized, the first year of medical school is many things,” he said. “It’s consistently challenging, it’s at times overwhelming, but it’s often exciting. Most of all, the first year is about setting up the foundation on which to build the rest of your medical career.”

The White Coat Ceremony

Following lunch was the event every first-year had been waiting for – the White Coat Ceremony. This tradition, which started at the School of Medicine in 1997, formally presents first-year students with their white coats, long the symbol of physicians and scientists. The coats are put on by School of Medicine faculty, to welcome their new colleagues to the profession of medicine.

“The White Coat Ceremony today symbolizes the beginning of your privileged journey into medicine,” said Dean Reece. “It is a lifelong journey of learning and healing….I charge you today to do the following: Walk well on this time-honored path. The white coat is just a symbol. What is most important is who is wearing it.”

After being "coated," students recited an oath acknowledging their acceptance of the obligations of the medical profession. They also add their signatures to the school's honor book, a leather-bound volume signed by all med students in their first year and their final year, in which they pledge to maintain integrity throughout their years in medicine.

“It’s an accomplishment,” says Brandon Haugh of his new white coat. “Structure and Development was our first milestone of medical school, and now it feels like we belong here.” For Hersch Bhatia, “it means we’re officially welcome in the hospital, we can walk around and join the ranks of the others in our profession, which is nice.”
To see more photos from the White Coat Ceremony and Medical Family Day, please visit the School of Medicine's official Facebook page.
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 Brandon Haugh and Hersch Bhatia show off their white coats.

 The families of first-year students got the chance to meet and share their expriences during Medical Family Day.

 Students signed the honor book and pledged to maintain integrity throughout their years in medicine.

 Students take an oath after receiving their coats, acknowledging their acceptance of the obligations of the medical profession.

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