In groups of four, the students walked to the front of Uris Auditorium to receive the garment that will most readily identify them as students of medicine. Medical College Dean Dr. Antonio M. Gotto Jr., Dr. Carol Storey-Johnson, senior associate dean for education and associate professor of clinical medicine, Dr. Carla Boutin-Foster, assistant professor of medicine, and other distinguished faculty members bestowed the symbolic coats among the first-year students. Dr. Charles Bardes, associate dean for admissions and professor of clinical medicine, presented the new class to a packed house of proud family and friends.
"You are about to wear the white coat that represents your entry into the world of patient care," said Dr. Emilio Carrillo, associate professor of clinical public health and clinical medicine, and the program's featured speaker.
Dr. Carrillo impressed upon the students that the white coat carries with it freedoms not commonly given to all citizens.
"You are granted the privilege of entering the private worlds of patients you serve," he said. "You are trusted by patients with their most private thoughts. You are allowed to examine patients with the use of your senses and hands."
As with all power, there is also a great responsibility to bear.
"The trust that the patient places in you requires a great commitment on your part," Dr. Carrillo said. "This trust requires compassion for those you care for; complete dedication to the well-being of your patient; and strict honesty and confidentiality in all your deliberations."
And the Class of 2012 fully recognizes how their roles in medicine and the world beyond have transformed dramatically.
"I think the White Coat Ceremony was a time to celebrate both the seriousness and the power that the white coat can represent in medicine," said first-year student Megan Schlagman. "Although I had thought many times before about the powers doctors wield, I am now entering into a stage of life where I will begin to wield those powers as well. In additional to impressing upon me a sense of the weight of this profession, the ceremony seemed to honor us, as students, for making it this far in our education."
Prior to receiving their coats, Dr. Gotto recited the Hippocratic Oath to the entering class.
"Four year from now, you will be taking this oath with me, but for now you can only listen," Dr. Gotto said.
Photography by Weill Cornell Art & Photography.