The annual White Coat Ceremony fills participants with excitement for the future of medicine.
Few professional symbols are more inspiring and filled with expectation than the doctor's white coat in medicine. This distinctive garb evokes hope, knowledge, respect and caring in the minds of just about all who see it - whether patient, family member, student, staff or physician.
These are some of the thoughts that crossed my mind as I participated in the 17th annual White Coat Ceremony of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA in August. With great pride, I watched as we cloaked 188 entering students, the Class of 2016, with their first white coats. The students beamed, walking across the stage as newly initiated members of the medical community. For our students, this ceremony was truly a gratifying moment, as they transitioned from aspiring medical students to physicians-in-training. And they certainly deserved the spotlight that was shining on them.
Our new initiates were not the only ones aglow in UCLA's legendary Royce Hall. Family members, particularly parents, were a proud and enthusiastic audience. For them, I imagined validation after years of steadfast dedication to nurturing their sons' or daughters' aspirations and promise. Some in the audience, especially those who have been patients, no doubt felt a personal connection with the health profession. Knowing the compassionate nature of their loved ones being cloaked must have provided them with assurance that the human touch will be preserved in medicine.
Faculty and alumni assembled on the stage were similarly excited. We saw the future unfolding before our eyes. These new students represent that next generation of leaders in health and science to whom we will eventually pass the baton. There are few disciplines in which the integrity of this interchange is more vital than medicine. Observing this poignant ceremony filled us with excitement, confidence and anticipation of the task before us - to train this remarkably accomplished and promising new class for their future roles as healers, teachers, researchers and leaders.
All present were a joy to watch. I congratulate everyone involved in preparing our students for this momentous day. It has been a long, arduous road, but the hard work has paid off, and our students enter medicine at a most propitious time.
As I said that afternoon, believe me, the best is yet to come.
A. Eugene Washington, M.D., M.Sc.
Vice Chancellor, UCLA Health Sciences
Dean, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Gerald S. Levey, M.D., Endowed Chair