On Friday, May 20 the students in the class of 2004 participated in the school of dentistry’s first annual White Coat Ceremony. Attended by some 200 family members, friends, fellow students, and faculty the ceremony marked the culmination of the first year of didactic learning and the right of passage into the clinical phase of dental education.
Keynote speaker, Doug Solow, associate dean for clinical services, captured the essence of the ceremony when he said, “The white coat itself is not as important as what it symbolizes. The coat signifies several things. It represents society’s fundamental belief in a system in which doctors are experts, and in which doctors are healers. Along with that, the coat conveys a sense of purpose, which helps reassure patients and gain their confidence. The wearer of a white coat is expected to care for patients, not only by providing quality care, but also by respecting the patient. The coat symbolizes competence, but it must also signify compassion.”
Because the white coats do not meet current infection control standards, students are not permitted to wear them when treating patients in the dental clinics. Nonetheless, the ceremony with its pomp, circumstance and symbolism was a memorable event for all in attendance.