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Ceremony marks beginning of medical students’ journey

Aug. 1, 2013, 9:10 AM

First-year School of Medicine student Ben Li gets an assist from Bonnie Miller, M.D., at last week’s White Coat Ceremony in Light Hall. (photo by Anne Rayner)

First-year Vanderbilt University School of Medicine students were asked to feel the weight of responsibility as they donned their white coats in a ceremony July 26 in 208 Light Hall.

Bonnie Miller, M.D., associate vice chancellor for Health Affairs and senior associate dean for Health Sciences Education, said that while the Class of 2017 already impresses her, she hopes they see the white coat as a symbol of service rather than privilege.

Scott Rodgers, M.D., congratulates Jennifer Grasch on receiving her white coat. (photo by Anne Rayner)

“The white coat must be earned every day through sacrifice and service; our patients deserve nothing less. I hope they feel a bit heavy not just with the accouterments of our trade, but also with responsibility. The coat won’t transform; the transformation will come from your own hard work and travels, but rest assured, you will not travel alone,” Miller told the students before a packed crowd filled with family, friends and sponsors.

Miller mentioned that each coat contained an envelope with the name of the student’s white coat sponsor. Sponsors were then asked to rise and were given a round of applause.

John Zic, M.D., associate dean for Admissions, said this class is remarkable for its quality and diversity, and for the fact it will be the first to be trained within the new Curriculum 2.0.

Dagoberto Estevez enjoys the moment with his wife, Amy, and their children, Joseph, left, and Esther, who showed their support by donning their own white coats. (photo by Anne Rayner)

He said the students possess the highest MCAT average in the history of the school, and 23 students are of under-represented in medicine ethnicity, the second highest total in school history.

Eleven of the new students plan to pursue their M.D./Ph.D. degrees.
Three additional students entering the program from advanced years in the M.D. program bring the number of M.D./Ph.D. students added this year to the program to 14.

There are more than 52 different undergraduate colleges and universities represented.
Colleges with three or more representatives include Duke, Harvard, Notre Dame, Princeton, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, University of Pennsylvania, Vanderbilt and Yale.

Eight students hold citizenship in other countries, including Canada, China, Honduras, India, Spain, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.

Jennifer Huang smiles after receiving her white coat. (photo by Anne Rayner)

Miller helped each student into his or her white coat with the help of Scott Rodgers, M.D., associate dean for Medical Student Affairs, Kim Lomis, M.D., associate dean for Undergraduate Medical Education, and Andre Churchwell, M.D., associate dean for Diversity in Medical Education.

The mentors of the four colleges capped off the ceremony with the reading of the oath for teachers and learners.

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