KU School of Medicine welcomes class of 2027 with White Coat Ceremony
More than 200 students at the KU School of Medicine began their journey into the profession with the traditional White Coat Ceremony.
Broad smiles, cheers, tears, giant hugs, selfies and shrieks accompanied the 211 students launching their careers in medicine in a joyous ceremony on July 21. The students were cloaked in white coats, a recognized symbol of the profession of medicine, during the annual rite of passage that symbolizes the beginning of their medical careers.
Doctors’ Notes, an a cappella musical group made up of KU medical students, performed “A Million Dreams” as a prelude to the ceremony, held at Memorial Hall in downtown Kansas City, Kansas.
Nearly 75% of the incoming class are Kansans, while the remaining students hail from 19 other states. They represent 51 undergraduate majors, from animal science and biology to nursing and theology, at 69 undergraduate colleges and universities.
The ceremony began with a moment of silence for Caroline Trupp, a medical student who passed away unexpectedly earlier in the week. She would have begun her second year of medical school this week, and Executive Dean Akinlolu Ojo, M.D., Ph.D., referenced her impact on her peers and faculty in his opening remarks.
“As exemplified by late student doctor Caroline Trupp, each of you can make a lasting impact on the KU School of Medicine community through your leadership and service even from now at the very beginning of your medical education,” Ojo said. “It is my privilege to join you today and bear witness as you don your white coats and recite your oath of commitment. The promises you make in this room lay the foundation for your journey as doctors. Adherence to these principles will be important to your success.”
The keynote speaker was Annabel Mancillas, M.D., MPH, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at KU School of Medicine. She was the winner of this year’s Rainbow Award, which is the highest and most prestigious award bestowed by medical students on faculty members. Mancillas recalled her time as a medical student at KU years ago and told the students they would find these upcoming years the most challenging, difficult and rewarding of their lives.
“Despite all those challenges, it really is amazing what you all will accomplish in the next four years, in your residency and in your careers,” she said, noting that today was the first step. “Look around you, look at the people sitting next to you, behind you, in front of you. Some of you will get married to each other, while others will serve as participants in your wedding parties. Some of you will become friends that are closer than family.”
During the ceremony, each student received a personalized white coat and a pin representing one of eight medical alumni societies, then each signed the Honor Code Book. Like many members of the KU Medical School class of 2027, Arman Ahmed had health care experience. However, his route was a bit nontraditional, coming from his experiences as a firefighter/emergency medical technician.
“At Bonner Springs where I worked, we have both an ambulance and a fire truck. You rotate through them both,” he said, noting that his responsibilities with both inspired him to pursue medicine. “But it was my paramedic mentors who showed me that you can have such a meaningful impact on a patient — even if they’re only in your ambulance for 20 minutes on their way to the hospital.”
Ahmed, who earned a degree in biochemistry from Drury University, found the White Coat Ceremony particularly inspirational, and he has a message for aspiring medical students. “There isn’t just one right way to get to medical school. You really can go from driving a fire engine to being a physician as long as you have that heart for the mantle of service.”
Tyler Hughes, M.D., dean of KU School of Medicine-Salina, talked to the students about their commitment to professionalism, noting that even being a medical student comes with serious responsibility and corresponding expectations from society. Hughes talked about how, his first week of medical school, he happened upon a car accident and felt obligated to render aid to a woman bleeding from a laceration.
“There I was, with my four hours of medical school training, feeling woefully underprepared.” Hughes noted that he relied on his common sense for the most part, putting pressure on the laceration. but it was a wake-up call that his life was going to be different now. “The white coat will always be with you, whether you are wearing it or not.”
"The white coat will always be with you, whether you are wearing it or not."- Tyler Hughes, M.D., dean of KU School of Medicine-Salina