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School of Medicine Class of 2024 Finds Developing White Coat Ceremony Oath as a Class Particularly Meaningful

The oath is meant to acknowledge the student’s obligation of caring for the patient.

December 07, 2020
White Coat Oath Word Jumble Internet Image

“We had given the Class of 2024 the option to use last year’s oath, however, they preferred to create their own oath because it would be more meaningful to them and would also make it easier for them to hold each other accountable to living up to the oath as they go through their four years here at NYMC,” said Mill Etienne, M.D. ’02, M.P.H., associate dean for student affairs and associate professor neurology.

To develop the oath, 24 students, representing each house, served on the committee, however, everyone in the Class of 2024 had an opportunity to comment and give feedback before the oath was finalized. For members of the Class of 2024, creating the oath proved to be a very meaningful experience.

"I was especially interested in working on the oath because the oaths I took as a soldier and combat support medic in the IDF were incredibly meaningful experiences, and those commitments have stayed with me even as a civilian,” said Margot Lurie, SOM Class of 2024. “Contributing to our class white coat oath meant getting to help create a similarly significant experience for our class."  

“Collaborating on this oath helped me feel connected to my class in a relatively disconnected time,” says Thomas Gagliardi, SOM Class of 2024. “Together, we set the tone for our medical education by melding the views of the unique 212 individuals that make up the NYMC SOM Class of 2024.”

“I realized I wanted to be a part of the Oath Writing Committee ever since I heard that our White Coat Ceremony would be different than the other years,” said Timothy Sullivan, SOM Class of 2024. “This year, more than ever, I wanted to have a part in creating an oath that will live in our hearts for the rest of our lives and remind us of the challenging times we went to school in.”

The writing process and discussions on what to include in the oath, particularly in regard to the pandemic, also offered an opportunity for the students to get to know their fellow classmates better.

“In one of our later conversations, we discussed whether or not to mention the pandemic and ‘unprecedented times’ in the oath,” says Eva Chorna, SOM Class of 2024. “Some argued that our desire to become doctors has stemmed from a young age and has been a goal driving us for many years long before the beginning of the pandemic. However, the counter-argument sparked a conversation that was particularly poignant. This pandemic has shed light on the true responsibilities of health care professionals in a world where all else seems to be halted. We understand the true importance of our newly appointed positions, and the impact we will have not only on our patients but on the entirety of our society. Writing this oath was a reflection of the gratitude we have as a class, in being able to be part of the new generation of physicians and come to the aid of our society as a whole.” 

“It is heartwarming to see so many students voice the shared value of strengthening empathy and humanism in medicine by doing more to incorporate the marginalized and impoverished segments of our society,” said Sania Azhar, SOM Class of 2024. “Many students echoed the importance of building a united front against inequity in medicine with the goal of providing altruistic care to each and every patient.”

“While this was a way for me to meet new people and get to know my classmates on a more intimate level, it was also a time to learn why they wanted to pursue medicine as a career and the type of doctor they’d like to be,” said Alessandra Moscatello, SOM Class of 2024. “What was most important to me to include in our class’ oath is the pledge to remain human and empathetic towards our patients as they are in our care. I enjoyed hearing what my classmates wanted to incorporate, and together we crafted an oath that represented the beliefs of our class as a whole, which is something I will treasure for the rest of my career.”

“I felt strongly about acknowledging the wide range of people that have helped each and every one of us to get to this point in the oath,” said Hugh Thompson, SOM Class of 2024. “We could not have made it this far without the love and support from so many people, most importantly, our families. In a similar vein, I wanted to make sure we gave thanks to scientific and clinical work performed by the innumerable physicians and scientists that our current medical knowledge stands on. Without them and their innovation, we would be stuck 'treating' people with leeches and poisons.”

Overall, it was clear from the impassioned responses from the students to both creating the oath and participating in the ceremony, in general, had a significant effect.

“To be able to bring together a variety of experiences and worldviews into an oath that the entire class recites and lives out over the next four years was incredibly humbling,” said Mr. Thompson. “One of the main reasons I wanted to become involved in working on the oath is that it would allow me to gain insight into the causes and ideologies that matter most to my class, and having the privilege of learning how diverse yet how similar our class is was both enlightening and at times quite poignant. Most definitely an experience that I will never forget.”

“I am very thankful to have the opportunity to work with my fellow classmates and create an oath that was meaningful to us and captured the diversity of our class,” said Charanpreet Sasan, SOM Class of 2024. “I think our class has demonstrated a sense of renewed commitment to medicine and the oath reflected that. This event is very significant to me because it allowed me to create a uniquely personal connection with the words I committed to in my ceremony as well as get to bond with my peers and friends.”

“From a young age, reciting my medical school oath and donning my white coat was something I envisioned as being the key milestone marker of my entrance into medical school and passage hood to becoming a physician. There is an indescribable feeling of physically putting on your white coat, symbolizing a cloak of healing, while reciting extremely powerful words concurrently, promising to yourself and all those around you what you vow to uphold as a physician,” said Elana Rosenthal SOM Class of 2024. “I am committed, excited, and eager to be on this journey and learn as much as I can at NYMC to be the best healer I can be. I look forward to connecting with my patients, working with them as a team, and treating them for who they are and not only their illness.”