September 2021 Campus reopening guidelines
UMHS Celebrate Virtual White Coat Ceremony for 298 Students
UMHS hosted its first ever virtual White Coat Ceremony for its first-year medical students. Finding a creative solution to maintain the time-honored tradition in the midst of a pandemic, UMHS invited 298 medical students across three cohorts to submit videos of themselves donning their white coats for the first time - and the submissions featured students getting a helping hand from a support network that included parents, loved ones, children, and even puppies. The UMHS White Coat Ceremony video showcases the diversity of the student population and the range of backgrounds representing 20 U.S. states, Puerto Rico, and Canada, while emphasizing humanism in healthcare and the symbolic transition to the practice of medicine.
Professionally produced by an Emmy-winning production company, the UMHS White Coat Ceremony featured welcome remarks from President Warren Ross, Provost & CAO Dr. David Graham, and a history of the white coat from Dr. George Shade, Dean of Clinical Science at UMHS.
“From this day forward you willingly dedicate yourself to the betterment of mankind through scientific and academic excellence, compassion, and selflessness,” Dr. Shade told the students. “Wear your coat with pride and respect for what it symbolizes: it was not easily obtained, and therefore should not be easily abandoned. You are now part of a proud profession that has earned its position of respect. Honor it as it honors you on this day.”
Many of the students from UMHS have followed a non-traditional path on their journey to becoming a doctor. While the average age of med students in the U.S. is 24 years old, 46% of the most recent class of students entering UMHS are 26 years old or greater, and 3% are more than 40 years old. Another notable difference with the UMHS student population is gender representation, with more than 60% of students who identify as female. As an independent medical school that’s dedicated to promoting student success and securing residency matches for graduates in the United States and Canada, the White Coat Ceremony celebrates the obstacles that many UMHS students have overcome, as well as the promise of fulfilling their dreams.
With backdrops ranging from beaches, to living rooms, to the U.S. Capitol, the videos of UMHS students provide a glimpse of the varied ethnic and geographical backgrounds represented by the diverse student population and reveal all the hope and promise the ceremony represents.
“For the student, the White Coat Ceremony marks a personal transition,” said Edwin Purcell, PhD., Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at UMHS. “They are entering the field of medicine and therefore students learn and must display extraordinarily high levels of professionalism and empathy. For their families and friends, it is an opportunity to feel pride and also a reminder that their loved one is going to be engaging in one of the toughest rites of passage. Their support and understanding will be essential for the next four years.”
The white coats worn by both doctors and medical students have a proud and surprising history, which UMHS detailed in its blog,The UHMS Endeavour. Doctors did not originally wear white coats, and the facts surrounding the transition to white coats parallel the evolution of the practice of medicine. Even the length of the coats bears significance - with medical students wearing shorter coats than fully-licensed doctors.
During the ceremony, Dr. Prakash Mungli, UMHS Dean of Student Affairs, introduced keynote speaker Dr. Kristen Miller, who was among the inaugural class of UMHS. Dr. Miller asked students, “You get one shot, so why not challenge yourselves? You’re going to be pushed. Are you going to rise to the occasion?”
To see the full White Coat Ceremony for each cohort, including the complete remarks from the event speakers and videos for all of the UMHS students, please visit: