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KU School of Medicine holds White Coat Ceremony for class of 2022

August 01, 2018

By Kristi Birch

KU School of Medicine White Coat Ceremony 2018

Spirits were high at Memorial Hall in downtown Kansas City, Kansas, on the afternoon of July 27, when the University of Kansas School of Medicine class of 2022 took its professional oath at the White Coat Ceremony. At this rite of passage for entering medical students, KU School of Medicine faculty share their wisdom and each student walks on stage to be cloaked in a white coat, a symbol of the physician's profession, with family and friends in attendance.

"From this day on, your lives will take on a very profound and singular goal: to reduce human suffering," said Robert D. Simari, M.D., executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center, in the keynote address. "You are our hope for a brighter future, and the white coats represent the hopes and trust we place in you."

Simari noted that the 222 incoming students were beginning their careers in a time of great change-in the school, in the practice of medicine, and in the world. This class will be educated in the most state of the art facilities the school of medicine has ever had: the new health education buildings in Kansas City and Salina and the Wichita campus, which was expanded in 2010. And this class will be just the second to be trained under the ACE (Active, Competency-based, and Excellence-driven) curriculum, the most sweeping redesign of the school's curriculum in 20 years.

"The white coat is the first of many milestones," said Zeina Zayat, a first-year student from Wichita. "We still have four more years of classes and four more years of memories. Today is one more milestone toward becoming a full-fledged doctor. I'm so excited."

These students will enter medicine at time when patients often will be treated with personalized care based on their own genetic background. "But while doing so, you must provide personal care. You must take time to know patients and not just the data they represent," Simari cautioned. "You must find ways to harness technologies, while not losing the compassion, integrity and humility necessary to care for patients."  

Simari also noted that when he graduated from the KU School of Medicine in the 1980s, the assumption was that medical care determined health, but that has changed. Health care is the tip of the iceberg, and other major determinants of health are determinants of poverty, namely the distribution of wealth. Being a physician responsible for the health of patients, Simari said, means also considering how you can impact the health of patients outside of traditional health care.  

After receiving a personalized white coat, each student signed the Honor Code Book and received a pin from a student leader representing one of eight medical alumni societies before exiting the stage. Each white coat also included a Keeping Healthcare Human pin, a gift from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, initiators of the first White Coat Ceremony in 1993.

The students then recited in unison an oath affirming their commitment to uphold their commitment to high standards of professionalism and patient care, which was followed by a performance of "Heal the World" by Doctors Notes, an a capella choir made up of KU medical students.

Edward Machen, a new student from Quinter, a small town in Northwestern Kansas, said the ceremony meant a lot. "It's kind of a culmination of a lot of time, hard work, and really just a chance to be a physician," he said. "I think it's awesome."

Last modified: Aug 02, 2018