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School of Medicine Class of 2021 Officially Dons White Coats for the First Time

They processed in as medical students but the School of Medicine Class of 2021 recessed out vested as members of the medical community proudly wearing their new white coats and shouldering the responsibilities of medicine. The White Coat Ceremony held at the Performing Arts Center in Purchase, N.Y., on October 22, was the symbolic beginning of the four-year journey of medical school and entry into the medical profession. More than 1,000 guests witnessed the rite of passage as 216 members of the Class of 2021 were cloaked in their new white coats by “investors,” respected faculty leaders who represent the value system of medicine and NYMC and believe in the students’ ability to carry on the noble tradition of the practice of medicine and took an oath that the class collaboratively wrote. View the White Coat Ceremony photo gallery here.

Jennifer L. Koestler, M.D., senior associate dean for medical education and associate professor of pediatrics, who served as master of ceremony, led the event that included remarks by student speaker Natalie Alvarez, School of Medicine Class of 2018 and president and member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society. Ms. Alvarez reflected on her own White Coat Ceremony and what her white coat has come to mean to her throughout four years of medical school. She explained it was a transformational moment during her third-year clinical rotations when she realized she was learning medicine that could not be taught in a classroom and her white coat transformed her from a student asking questions in class to a medical professional being asked questions by patients and their families.

The Class of 2021 was also addressed by Edward C. Halperin, M.D., M.A., chancellor and chief executive officer and interim dean, School of Medicine. Dr. Halperin gave a moving talk to his “dear young doctors” about the problem grappled by philosophers and theologians, the problem of evil. He recommended the students spend less time pondering the problem why bad things happen to the innocent and trying to answer the unanswerable question. He encouraged them to believe they have the power to do something about it and spend more time taking action in their calling of diagnosing, treating, comforting and supporting.

White Coat Ceremony keynote speaker Alina Moran, M.P.A., FAB, chief executive officer, NYC Health + Hospitals/Metropolitan Hospital Center, gave a brief history of the White Coat Ceremony, apropos to the longest standing relationship, since 1987, between a private medical school and a public hospital—NYMC and Metropolitan Hospital Center. She commended the School of Medicine Class of 2021 on their dedication and decision to pursue medicine at NYMC where she has observed its guiding values that include humanism, cultural competency, professionalism and interpersonal skills to be the fabric and foundation of the school. She urged the students to always strive to treat the body, soul and mind by being an effective communicator, a skilled clinician and a compassionate listener.

Gladys M. Ayala, M.D., M.P.H., interim vice dean, School of Medicine and associate professor of clinical medicine, officially presented the Class of 2021 and called them individually to center stage to be invested in their white coats. After the last student was cloaked, the stage was a swath of white coats, proud smiles and a snap shot of the future of medicine.

The White Coat Ceremony was preceded by a Family and Friends Day on October 20. Guests came to campus for a breakfast and had the chance to meet with School of Medicine administration and faculty. Panel discussions by second-year medical students gave guests a description of life as a medical student, including what to expect during exam time, preparations for the boards and residency interview season and the all-important question of what to send in a care package. View the White Coat Family and Friends day photo gallery here.