Cloaked to care

More than 1,500 hours of lectures and thousands of exam questions later, members of the UF College of Medicine’s class of 2014 have arrived at the midpoint of their medical education journey.

To celebrate this milestone, nearly 850 family, friends and faculty members joined entering third-year students during the Mark S. Gold, M.D., Distinguished Professor and Alumnus White Coat Ceremony Sunday, May 20, at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.

“Two years ago, you received your stethoscope and learned the importance of listening to your patients,” said Michael L. Good, M.D., dean of the College of Medicine, during his welcome remarks. “Today, you’ll receive your white coat and with it comes tremendous responsibilities.”

Sponsored by the Mark S. Gold, M.D., White Coat Ceremony endowment, the UF White Coat Ceremony began 15 years ago in the basement of the J. Wayne Reitz Union with second-year medical students and a handful of faculty members.

Over the years, the ceremony has grown in its academic importance and elegance, as it is considered “second only to graduation” for medical students.

Guest speaker Sunil Joshi, M.D., a 1998 graduate of the UF College of Medicine and new president of the UF Medical Alumni Association, reminded students and guests that a white coat powerfully symbolizes the skill of the person wearing it.

“This is why patients look for people in white coats when they walk into a hospital,” he said.

To describe the growth and transition medical students will experience in the coming years, Patrick Duff, M.D., associate dean for student affairs and professor obstetrics and gynecology, held up a doll representing the outer shell of a medical student.

Students will encounter opportunities throughout their clinical rotations that help add a compassionate heart, intent ears, observant eyes and a big smile to their shells, transforming the doll into “a talented clinician and revered physician,” Duff said.

“No patient cares about how much you know until they know how much you care,” Duff said. “Your remarkable scholastic and personal accomplishments will be all the more noteworthy when you cloak them with humility and grace.”

As family and friends proudly cheered on, 145 students walked across the stage to receive the freshly pressed white coats embroidered with their names.

Philip Gilbo, class academic chair, commended his classmates’ accomplishments and shared a word of encouragement.

“Like baby birds on the edge of their nest, it’s exciting but also scary,” Gilbo said. “But as we’ve done in the past years, we’ll do this together. Class of 2014, it’s time to fly.”