First-year medical students in the class of 2019 received new coats just in time for fall’s cooler temperatures. This piece of clothing did more than add warmth, however — instead, it served as a symbol of the profession the students have pledged to pursue.
Friends and family burst into cheers from the seats of the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts as each of the 137 students received crisp white coats during the Mark S. Gold, M.D. ’75, Distinguished Professor and Alumnus White Coat Ceremony Nov. 22, marking a rite of passage in the UF College of Medicine and the transition from basic to clinical science studies.
“As you slide your arms into your white coat today, you will now be shouldering a new set of responsibilities,” said UF College of Medicine Dean Michael L. Good, M.D., in his opening remarks. “You will be wearing the uniform of our profession, and with it comes a responsibility to your patients — to earn their trust and to give them your very best skills and, most importantly, your compassion.”
Gabriel Daniels, academic chair of the class of 2019, also addressed the crowd, providing an overview of the diversity his classmates represent. Collectively, the class of 2019 spans an age range of more than 20 years, and students come from 43 undergraduate institutions, more than 14 states and five continents.
“We truly have, in my opinion, one of the greatest collections of unique minds unified by a common endeavor,” Daniels said. “Together, we prepare to don the most prominent mark of the physician: the symbol of a knowledge unrivaled and a compassion unceasing; the sign of purity, trust, respect, and professionalism; the garment that, without saying a word, will tell everyone who we are and how we plan to improve the world every day.”
Members of the student ensemble gathered around microphones to perform their rendition of Josh Groban’s “You Raise Me Up,” the unofficial anthem for the College of Medicine’s white coat and commencement ceremonies, said Patrick Duff, associate dean for student affairs.
“The key question I would like you to think about today is, ‘What do I have to do to earn the awesome privilege of protecting the well-being of another individual?’” Duff told students. “I hope that you will wear your new white coats with justifiable pride, but also with dignity and grace. You have an opportunity now to be part of one of the most noble and empowering professions imaginable.”
To close the ceremony, students recited the College of Medicine Code of Ethics before making a beeline for the lobby, where loved ones waited with flowers, hugs and words of encouragement. The celebration spilled into the crisp afternoon air, with classmates snapping selfies to show off their new coats and crowding around the fountain to capture group photos.
As families clustered outside, first-year student John Mayfield stood chatting comfortably in his new white coat, with his young daughter in his arms and a smile on his face.
“This has been 15 years in the making,” said Mayfield, who worked in the wine and restaurant industry before attending medical school. “Now that I’m a father and husband, it means so much more.”
For more photos, visit the UF College of Medicine Alumni and Friends Facebook page.