To civilians, a doctor’s white coat symbolizes authority, professionalism and honor. To medical students on their way to becoming physicians, the white coat serves as a promise to uphold these values, no matter what.
On Nov. 20 at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, members of the UF College of Medicine’s class of 2020 attended the Mark S. Gold, M.D. ’75, Distinguished Professor and Alumnus White Coat Ceremony, bringing each of them one step closer to becoming a practicing physician. Each of the 135 members of the class walked across the stage and donned his or her white coat for the first time, amid cheers and applause from family and friends.
The ceremony opened with bagpipe music played by John Duff, Ph.D., a professor in the UF department of music, and the national anthem sung by 12 first-year medical students. The ensemble also performed “You Raise Me Up” later in the ceremony.
Associate dean for student affairs Patrick Duff, M.D., gave the students tips for success from sources as varied as Mother Teresa and Yogi Berra.
“Put forth your best effort, even when you’re tired, even when you’re frustrated,” he said. “Be receptive to things new and different.”
First-year medical student Jared Freitas said he is thankful the UF College of Medicine waits until the class has nearly finished its first semester before holding this ceremony.
“It means a lot more this way. We feel like we’ve earned it. We’ve had time to bond and gel as a group, and we’ve had time to reflect on what it means to receive it,” he said. “It gives us a lot of hope for what we will do in the future.”
Kyle E. Rarey, Ph.D., professor of anatomy and cell biology, says teaching the class of 2020 is a true joy.
“They’re demonstrating a commitment to realizing their dreams, and they’re doing it with character,” he said. “They’re extraordinary individuals. They’ve shown grit and perseverance.”
Wayne Dell, academic chair for the class of 2020, said though his classmates have diverse backgrounds, coming from 48 universities and ranging in age nearly 20 years, they have one common goal.
“We have laughed with each other and learned from each other. Our paths are diverse, but they have led us to the same place. We are all here for the same reason – to alleviate suffering,” he said.