White Coat Ceremony Caps Off Transition to Medical School Week for SOM Class of 2026
Students Donned Their White Coats For The First Time And Are Officially On Their Way To Becoming Physicians
The White Coat Ceremony for the New York Medical College (NYMC) School of Medicine (SOM) Class of 2026 on July 29 capped off an eventful Transition to Medical School Week for more than 210 incoming medical students. The ceremony, which marks the first time that students don their white coats before beginning their medical education, followed a busy week of move-in days, orientation presentations and the SOM Dean’s Barbecue, that allowed students to become acquainted with their new classmates, faculty and administration.
Students filed into the elegant Palace Theater in Stamford, Connecticut, along with NYMC and Touro University (TU) leadership and faculty to don their white coats with the help of faculty investors in front of an audience of more than 1,300 guests.
The event was led by master of ceremony Jennifer L. Koestler, M.D., senior associate dean for medical education and associate professor of pediatrics, who also presented the students along with Mill Etienne, M.D. ’02, M.P.H., FAAN, FAES, vice chancellor for diversity and inclusion, associate dean for student affairs and associate professor of neurology and of medicine.
“The White Coat ceremony is an important way to shine a spotlight on the dedication and commitment of medical students as they transition to become physicians,” said Alan Kadish, M.D., president of TU and NYMC. “I’m confident that the students sitting here before you today, will help get us to a better future.”
Jerry L. Nadler, M.D., MACP, FAHA, FACE, dean of the SOM and professor of medicine and of pharmacology, spoke to the students about the ceremony’s roots in the Arnold P. Gold Foundation in 1993 when it started to highlight the importance of humanism in all care of patients. “Today more than any other day we need educated, humanistic physicians to address the health inequities and challenges in our community. Despite all the technology, you’re taking care of a human patient at their most vulnerable time, so remember each individual is important,” Dr. Nadler said.
“You are beginning a journey that will achieve many milestones, meet lifetime mentors, friends and colleagues, and pursue academics to become a physician. Receiving your white coat in the presence of your family, friends and school, is a big honor and a day you will forever remember,” said Deepika Dhawan, SOM Class of 2023, who spoke to the students as a member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society.
The keynote speaker, Leonard J. Newman, M.D. ’70, professor and chair of the Department of Pediatrics and associate professor of family and community medicine, spoke about the importance of compassion when seeing patients, and the three “A’s” of being a physician—affability, availability and ability, which can be challenged by external factors. “As you care for patients you must be sensitive to their emotional and social needs,” Dr. Newman said. “You will certainly have the ability to be an outstanding physician, but you need to ensure that the care you deliver will meet the needs of your patients from the point of view of your affability and availability.”
Proudly wearing their new white coats, the future physicians recited the Class of 2026 Medical Student Oath, led by Dr. Etienne. The oath was carefully and thoughtfully developed by the students who pledged to “acknowledge that the white coat signifies a sacred and implicit trust…and strive daily to earn and to honor that trust.”
The ceremony was a celebratory end to a week of learning about life at NYMC for the 214 students in the Class of 2026, who were chosen out of 12,336 total applicants. Though sixty percent of the class is from New York, the class represents 27 states and 93 undergraduate institutions. The diverse class is 49 percent female and includes eight international students.