Are you a potential medical student looking to understand the white coat ceremony and what it means for students like you? Are you a parent looking to understand what the white coat ceremony is? If either of these is true, then you have come to the right place.
The white coat ceremony is something that is cherished by medical professionals everywhere. It is a right of passage for many medical professionals and an extremely important stepping stone in a young doctor’s career. We will not only provide information about what the ceremony is but also what you can expect during the ceremony.
If this sounds like information you are interested in reading about, you have come to the right place. Keep reading to find more information.
What Does the White Coat Symbolize?
The white coat is more than just a coat. Contrary to popular belief, some time ago, physicians wore all black. However, white was utilized to symbolize purity or cleanliness as time progressed. This is said to be similar to the tradition of brides wearing white for cleanliness and purity. Students are being bestowed with this “cloak of honor during the ceremony.”
The white coat has a symbolic meaning that brings humanity back into medicine. It represents the compassion and professionalism of medicine. It represents a doctor’s oath to keep their patient first and provide the best care possible.
Who Gets a White Coat Ceremony?
The white ceremony is meant for an abundance of medical professionals. Though first introduced for just doctors, it has been embraced by several others as time progressed. One of the first white coat ceremonies was held at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. To this day, with the help and support from others, the white coat ceremony has been embraced almost universally around the country.
However, traditional doctors are not the only individuals necessary for the medical grid to function. Several other individuals have begun adopting the white coat ceremony as well. Contrary to popular belief, it happens for more than just surgeons and new physicians. The white coat ceremony has been adopted by individuals everywhere. Not only do traditional surgeons and doctors have a white coat ceremony, but as do nurses and even physician assistants. Veterinarians even have a white coat ceremony.
Though nurses can be considered the backbone of the medical landscape, nurses have not consistently been recognized accordingly. The white coat ceremony for nurses was something that came long after the initial white coat ceremony. The Gold Foundation soon realized that nurses also play an essential role in healthcare and should be recognized as well. Though roughly 20 years later, in 2014, the white coat ceremony for nurses was enacted. Though it has not been adopted as widely as the Physician’s ceremony, over 300 schools across the country now take part in this ceremony.
What to Expect in a White Coat Ceremony?
Your white coat ceremony may be different depending on the university you attend. Some will have more notable speakers; some may follow a different schedule, but overall, the gist of the program is the same. Though the white coat ceremony is not long, it is significant.
The traditional short white coat will be placed on a student’s shoulders during the ceremony. At some point during the program, students will also recite the Hippocratic oath. If you are unfamiliar with what that is, it is an oath that physicians take at the start of their careers. This oath states that they will treat sick individuals to the best of their capability and pass their knowledge to the next generation of doctors. The definition also states that a doctor will preserve a patient’s privacy. There are two versions of this oath, the original and the modernized version.
Outside of reciting the oath, students will also perform a number of other activities. The ceremony is meant to provide new doctors with a sense of happiness and contentment with their doctor’s choice. Therefore, there are several presentations and speakers for the students to look forward to. These may include speeches from their dean of students and even notable doctors. This will generally vary depending on the school you attend.
The white coat ceremony, though generally held during the first semester of a medical student’s tenure, is often compared to a small graduation. One or several of the speakers will often provide a speech about the significance of the white coat. Many schools will offer hors d’oeuvres or a buffet meal following the white coat ceremony. This allows students and their families to celebrate this new journey with their fellow classmates and educational faculty.
Do Parents Attend the White Coat Ceremony?
A white coat ceremony is a unique event that students can be present for with their family and friends. Therefore, the answer to this question is yes. Parents can attend the ceremony if they like, but it is not mandatory. There may be several individuals who do not have parents at the ceremony for a number of reasons; this could be because of the distance to your school or several other reasons. However, most schools invite attendees, though things may have changed during the pandemic.
During the COV-19 pandemic, several precautions were taken to keep students safe during the ceremony. This included doing virtual ceremonies, limiting the number of attendees, and even broadcasting the ceremony online on platforms like YouTube for others to watch. Some institutions did not want to cancel the ceremony altogether and instead opted for creative events representing the white coat ceremony.
What to Wear to Your White Coat Ceremony?
Are you curious about what to wear to a white coat ceremony? Never fear; we have got you covered. If you have an upcoming white coat ceremony, it is likely that you are looking to put your best foot forward. Though you will be bestowed a white coat to wear on top of your clothing, you must dress presentably and represent yourself and your school well. It would help if you exuded the grace and dignity that you hope to uphold as a doctor.
The preparation for the ceremony is often organized by doctors who were in your shoes previously. Therefore, the preparations and events for each school will vary. Schools will send out information well in advance to ensure that you are properly prepared for the ceremony.
Some schools will provide their students with a recommended attire for the ceremony, while others may trust their students’ judgment to air on the side of caution. However, the most requested attire is business casual. It is likely that you have worked in an office setting before. Business casual is often the preferred attire of the workplace and should be an excellent example of what to wear for your ceremony.
This means that there should not be students showing up to the ceremony in jeans, gym shoes, or any clothing which can be considered casual. Your white coat ceremony should be taken seriously, and your dress should reflect that.
The white coat ceremony should be considered a conservative event. When in doubt, It’s always important to air on the side of caution. As a female, when dressing for the ceremony, pay attention to the lengths of skirts or dresses which you are considering. Wearing a dress that is too short or a skirt that is too short may give the illusion that you are not wearing anything under your white coat. You want to ensure that your skirt flows under the coat’s hemline.
The neckline is also an area that females must look out for. You do not want to show ample amounts of cleavage or draw unnecessary attention to your body; that is not the point of the ceremony. Typical outfits that often will make for the perfect attire for the white coat ceremony are pantsuits or skirt suits, often worn for interviews or even professional dresses. This takes the confusion away from having to find multiple pieces and makes getting dressed even more effortless.
Another thing that women should be mindful of is their shoes. Though it may seem like something small, you do not want your shoes to taking the attention away from the receipt of your red coat. This means that your shoes should match your business casual or professional business dress. Stay away from the large wedges and 6-inch heels.
Men may have it a bit easier than a woman. Though you don’t need to wear a three-piece suit or whip out your Sunday’s best, you will need to dress up your look a bit. A typical outfit for a male would include a nice pair of slacks and a button-down shirt. If you are concerned about what to wear or if you will be underdressed, this is an excellent uniform for a man to stick to. You want to make sure that your clothes are not only wrinkle-free and on par with the ceremony, but you also want to make sure that they fit.
Your clothes should not be too large or too small for males or females. This means for women, nothing too tight that accentuates your shape unnecessarily, and for men, this means no sagging or baggy clothes. Aside from being nicely pressed and ironed, you should also be clean and approachable. You want to keep your accessories to a minimum.
How would you want your doctor to look if you were going into your doctor’s office? Keep that in mind when getting dressed for the white coat ceremony.
What Happens After the White Coat Ceremony?
Once the white coat ceremony happens, now what? Do you expect to become a doctor overnight? If that is the expectation, you are sadly mistaken, and medical school might not be for you. Your white coat ceremony marks the beginning of a long journey. After the white coat ceremony, it’s time to put the oath into action. That means learning as much as possible to be the best doctor possible.
The ceremony marks the beginning of a student’s tenure to become a doctor. It often happens during the beginning of the first semester as a welcome event for students. After the ceremony, you are expected to go into your courses with the utmost respect for your craft and profession. Overall, your ceremony is something that you can be proud of. It should ignite the passion in you to get to the finish line.
Wrapping Things Up: What is a White Coat Ceremony?
The white coat ceremony is a celebratory milestone for new doctors. It is something that brings your friends and family together to celebrate you. This journey is something that you will never forget. Your white coat ceremony makes you evaluate the type of doctor you are looking to be and how you will get there.
Overall, the white coat ceremony is meant for all types of doctors. However, in recognizing them, we must also acknowledge the individuals who help them. This includes nurses and even physician assistants.
No matter where you are in your journey, we hope it is rewarding.