Class of 2023 marks the beginning of medical school training at annual White Coat Ceremony

August 8, 2019

On Friday, August 2, 365 first-year Indiana University School of Medicine students received their first white coats, formalizing the beginning of their medical school training. Held at Hilbert Circle Theater in downtown Indianapolis, the annual White Coat Ceremony marks the students’ matriculation into the medical community and serves as a symbol of the professional attitudes and ethical behaviors that all physicians in training must uphold. In addition to the ceremonial white coat presentation, the students repeated in unison the Physician’s Oath.

IU School of Medicine Dean Jay L. Hess, MD, PhD, MHSA, vice president for university clinical affairs, provided a history of the white coat, as well as insights about how perceptions of the white coat have changed over time and how medical students can help shift those perceptions, “You may know that there are those in health care who would like to see the white coat and the White Coat Ceremony go away. They see the white coat as a symbol of elitism, a barrier between you and your patients and other health care providers. It doesn’t have to be that way,” Hess said. “It’s not the coat, it’s the way you wear it.”

He continued by offering words of encouragement for the Class of 2023, “We selected you to become doctors not only because of your high grades and MCAT scores, but because of your humanity—your humility, your dedication, your unique personalities and talents. When you’re wearing these white coats, let those qualities shine through so you can connect with your patients, offer them comfort and hope, and be the very best doctors you can be.”

Friday’s ceremony concluded a week of orientation and medical service-learning projects, allowing first-year students to meet their new colleagues and learn more about the institution as they enroll in the largest medical school in the nation.

IU medical students are assigned to one of nine regional campuses where they receive their four years of training: Bloomington, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Northwest-Gary, Indianapolis, Muncie, South Bend, Terre Haute and West Lafayette.

Watch the 2019 White Coat Ceremony.