This past Friday we celebrated our entrance into the medical community with a white coat ceremony. Medical schools hold this meaningful right of passage at the beginning of every academic year. Family and friends of the entering class attend to witness the cloaking ceremony where eager first years receive the first tangible representation of the medical field—the short, white coat.
My friends and I all agreed that our white coat ceremony was inspiring, motivating, and intimidating all at the same time. I felt celebrated for what I’d accomplished up to this point but I also became acutely aware of all that’s to come. We may have donned our white coats but we have four years and endless learning to do prior to receiving two key letters to follow our name. Several Deans and faculty members spoke at the ceremony expressing their pride and excitement for the entering class of 2011. They encouraged us to reflect on what the white coat means-the responsibility that’s imparted by the cloaking ceremony and the significance of our undertaking. It truly was an inspiring ceremony. There’s a lot of metaphor associated with the white coat and I have come to better understand the requirements and developed a new attitude as a result. The white coat bestows authority, knowledge and leadership and as the recipient, I need to rise to the occasion, embody and espouse the values and charges associated.
A fourth year medical student pursuing vascular surgery addressed our class and qualified our excitement by explaining the transformation of the white coat from a mere accessory to an identifier. She explained the various paraphernalia we’d be carting around from stethoscopes to pocket medical diagnostic books and cautioned how residents would try and steal our pens adorning our jacket pockets. Eventually, the accessories would thin and we’d begin to look longingly at the longer coats distinguishing the residents and feel ready to move on to our next endeavor. I didn’t find myself wishing I was in her position-I know I will be there one day but I don’t want to rush the coming years. I need this knowledge and I want to challenge myself to conquer all of the material thrown our way.
The ceremony cemented my excitement and nervousness for tomorrow, the official start of classes. I know that tomorrow I start a monumental journey and a transformative process and I cannot wait to see how I adapt and change as a result. Sure, I’m worried about the impending stress and work but I’m also incredibly excited and, after our ceremony, eager and motivated. This first week may be sparse in terms of blogging but I promise to write by the end of the week about what is sure to be a fascinating five days. Until then, wish me luck!!
Journey towards the first day of medical school is almost over!