The White Coat Ceremony is a ritual that marks a student’s transition from pre-clinical studies into the study of medicine. Medical students experience their initial contacts with patients and establish their professional identity during medical school, not after their studies are completed. Thus, the White Coat Ceremony takes place before the start of classes, serving as a commitment to the expectations and responsibilities of the medical profession. It’s a “rite of passage” for us, encouraging a mental contract for professionalism and compassion.
Presented with our first white coats, my new classmates and I publicly acknowledged our new responsibility by swearing a professional oath before the assembly. In taking the oath, we committed ourselves to the highest standards of the profession – accepting the obligations that come with the privilege to study and practice medicine, and committing to becoming an honest and patient-focused physician. In that moment, I felt a strong sense of unity with my colleagues as we are all working towards the same goal of healing.
“I do hereby affirm my loyalty to the profession I am about to enter. I will be mindful always of my great responsibility to preserve the health and the life of my patients, to retain their confidence and respect both as a physician and a friend who will guard their secrets with scrupulous honor and fidelity, to perform faithfully my professional duties, to employ only those recognized methods of treatment consistent with good judgment and with my skill and ability, keeping in mind always nature’s laws and the body’s inherent capacity for recovery.” –Osteopathic oath