Loma Linda University held a White Coat Ceremony for the incoming class of 2010 on Thursday evening (after our first day of orientation). Prior to this ceremony I had heard many opinions that the White Coat ceremony was just a big waste of time. After all, the faculty members just help the students to put on a short white coat. These same people conceded that the ceremony was more for the families, spouses, and significant others than for the medical student.
Is it worthless? Well the opposing viewpoint is that the White Coat ceremony symbolizes transition from layperson to physician. It marks the beginning of one’s journey into the profession of medicine.
In the morning, during orientation, the Dean of the School of Medicine (Dr. Hadley) spoke to us about the significance of the white coat. He spoke on the responsibilities of a doctor – responsibilities and obligations that continue to exist outside the walls of a hospital and in the absence of any white coats. That evening Dr. _____, famous for the first infant transplant surgery, spoke to us about being a doctor.
So maybe it was useless. Maybe it was worthless. The white coat ceremony was probably of little use to the students, as far as our medical education goes. But we were warmly “welcomed into the profession.” Maybe it was our first baby steps as we received our new white coats and stethoscopes, and recited the Physician’s Oath.