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The White Coat Ceremony is an auspicious experience as students enter medical school. In the presence of family, guests, and faculty members, students are welcomed into the medical community by leaders of the medical center and ceremonially "cloaked" with their white coat. Then, dressed in white, they stand to take the ancient Oath of Hippocrates, traditionally sworn at graduation.
By establishing this meaningful ritual at the beginning of medical school, we hope students will become aware of their responsibilities from the first day of training. The ceremony is intended to impress upon them the primacy of the doctor-patient relationship. It encourages them to enter into a psychological contract in which they accept the obligations inherent in the practice of medicine: to be excellent in science, to be compassionate, and to lead lives of "uprightness and honor." It is designed to clarify for students that a physician's responsibility is to take care of patients and also to care for patients. The message transmitted is that doctors should "care" as well as "cure."
Enthusiasm for the White Coat Ceremony continues to grow. In 1994, The Arnold P. Gold Foundation sponsored three ceremonies. In 1995, entering students at four additional medical schools including the University of Iowa participated in White Coat Ceremonies sponsored by The Gold Foundation. Now the number is more than 100 schools. The Foundation's goal is that medical schools will make the White Coat Ceremony the highlight of their student orientation programs.
The 2014 White Coat Ceremony will be held on August 15, 2013 at 3:00 p.m. in Macbride Hall Auditorium.
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