Are you wondering who gets a white coat? Are you a medical student looking to learn more about what you can look forward to? If you can answer yes to either of these questions, then you are in the right place.
The white coat ceremony is a highly coveted event for medical students. It is something they can look back on, potentially, with great honor. We will give you information on what the white coat ceremony is, what happens at it, and what to expect.
All you have to do to gain the information mentioned above and more is keep reading! What are you waiting for?
What Does a White Coat Ceremony Mean?
The white coat ceremony is often seen as a right of passage for medical students. Though a relatively new tradition, it is something that many doctors will cherish throughout their whole careers. The white coat ceremony marries together several different facts about doctors. You may not know that doctors at one point wore black instead of white.
Doctors wore black until the 1900s. Medical sessions were treated as formal affairs and were regarded very seriously. Doctor visits were considered solemnly much like visits from a clergyman. However, as times began to change, so did the thoughts around doctors and sanitization. As sanitation and cleanliness became more critical, the medical practice began to evolve. This new, more sanitized approach to medicine changed the rigor and curriculum for doctors. It also altered the color of their coats.
White became a signifier of purity, cleanliness, and hope. Surgeons were the first individuals to adopt the white-coated, and the others soon followed. A student’s participation in a white coat ceremony signifies the beginning of their journey into the medical field. It is something which is regarded highly by medical students and professionals everywhere.
The first ceremony was held at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. Since this day, with the help and support from others, the white coat ceremony has been embraced almost universally around the country. The White Coat ceremony was meant to bring the human touch back into the field of medicine which the Gold Foundation thought was essential to do at the beginning of a young medical professional’s career.
You may be wondering who gets a white coat ceremony. The white coat ceremony happens for an abundance of individuals. 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.
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.
Is White Coat Ceremony a Big Deal?
The white coat ceremony is a right of passage for many doctoral students. Though a relatively new process, it is something that medical students heavily cherish. The white coat ceremony is seen as your introduction to the medical world and the start of a new journey. It not only symbolizes this fresh start, but it also symbolizes an oath that you take to be professional and ethical.
This ceremony also gives students a glimpse into what they have to look forward to. During the ceremony, students are not only presented with their white coats; they are given a wealth of knowledge by seasoned doctors in the industry. Many white coat ceremonies will include speeches and notable words from various professionals. These professionals may consist of the likes of the dean of students, hospital presidents, or other notable medical leaders. Doctors must not only earn their white coats but be worthy of keeping them.
When Does White Coat Ceremony Happen?
Though the ceremonies often have similar agendas, the events in the ceremony may differ based on the school that you attend. However, one thing remains the same: the overall message that the ceremony sends. Though students will receive their white coats, they will also receive messages about practicing ethics and being ethical doctors.
The ceremony generally takes place at the beginning of a student’s medical school tenure. For some schools, the ceremony may take place on the first day of orientation, while for others, it may be during the summer before the semester begins. The ceremony is not only an initiation but a welcome into the medical world.
What Year Do You Get Your White Coat?
Your white coat has symbolic meaning throughout your tenure in medical school. However, you may have a white coat presented to you at your white coat ceremony. That is not the only white coat you will receive. Doctors will wear two different white coats to symbolize different stages in their careers. The first white coat a student gets is a short lab coat. This coat will typically fall hip length. Medical students wear this shorter coat within the first year of their studies. These coats are generally for individuals who are still within their education.
Students will receive longer coats after the white coat ceremony has passed and their first year is complete. These longer coats may reach around a student’s knees. Essentially, the shorter a doctor’s coat, the less experience they have. Though a tradition for many institutions, some feel that the length of the coat often establishes an unneeded hierarchy.
What to Wear to a White Coat Ceremony?
If you have an upcoming white coat ceremony, you are likely 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.
Some schools will provide students with a dress code to adhere to, while others may air on the side of allowing their students to use their best judgment. Most institutions will agree that students should wear business casual as their ceremony is solemn, and your dress should represent 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 last thing you want to do is give the illusion that you aren’t wearing anything.
One area that may also provide some trouble for females is the neckline. Though this may not be an issue for some, it may be for others who are more well-endowed. You want to ensure that you are not drawing too much attention to your chest region. In addition to thinking about what top you would wear, you should also be mindful of your shoes.
Females should avoid 6-inch heels and large wedges that may draw attention to their feet or make them tower above others. They also want to be representative of a “respectable doctor.” Men have things much easier than women. They do not need to worry about cleavage or draw too much attention to the curves of their body. Common 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.
Your administration is not expecting you to pull out your Sunday best or show up in a formal suit; however, they expect you to present yourself with pride and dignity. 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.
Wrapping Things Up: Who Gets a White Coat Ceremony?
There is a significant importance in the white coat for doctors. It is something that many doctors look forward to and cherish for the rest of their lives. The white coat ceremony is something that happens not only for traditional doctors but also for other specialties. You can expect to have a white coat ceremony for pharmacy, nursing, and even physician assistants as a student.
The white coat ceremony is something you can look back on and cherish for not just the start of your medical journey but for the insight, you may have received during the ceremony. Several doctors and other medical professionals provide students with advice and insight into what they can expect through their journey. If you’re skeptical about attending your white coat ceremony, don’t make the mistake of missing out. It is something that you’ll be talking about years from now when you’re a seasoned medical professional.