white coat?

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    sorry, but can someone tell me what this white coat ceremony means? is it a big deal?


    The white coat ceremony is basically denoting the beginning of med school. Its called white coat because the schools give out the short med student white coats as part of it.

    I don’t know that all schools have a white coat ceremony, but many do.


    I did this program called MMEP through the AAMC at Columbia in NYC last summer, and it was there- at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons- that the ceremony originated, at least in the States. We got short coats (students “typically” wear short half-coats, physicians wear full long coats), for use in the hospitals during the summer, and we did a little mini-ceremony of sorts. At last count, all but one of the 200+ (?!) allopathic med-schools in the US and Canada do some sort. I don’t know about the osteo schools though. Here is one link that mentions it.


    At MCV we did a white coat ceremony, where we had a guest speaker, took the Hippocratic Oath, and were “assisted” into our new short white coats by some of the senior attendings at MCV. It was a very moving ceremony, actually, and I found myself getting teary as I thought about my mom (who had passed away a few yrs earlier), and how she had wanted to be a doctor, and how there I was, I med school.

    The standard student coat is a short one, and at most places the residents and attendings wear long ones. At some institutions (MCV being one) it was not that long ago (early-mid 90’s) that the residents had to wear short coats as well, and you received the long coat only as a chief resident or as an attending.

    What has been interesting to observe is the different traditions at different med schools/hospitals. When I transferred to ETSU for my 3rd yr, I noticed all the students wearing long coats – something I would have never even thought about attempting at MCV. So, of course, I bought two long coats once I started at ETSU! 😉


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