White Coat marks next step for Year 3 students

White Coat 2016
Green 6 Docent Gary Salzman, M.D., places a white coat on a new third-year student during the School of Medicine’s annual White Coat Ceremony.

It is one of the most recognized and respected symbols of a physician. Nearly 130 students from UMKC School of Medicine received their white coats with joy and excitement during the school’s annual White Coat Ceremony on Aug. 7 at the university’s White Recital Hall.

Jill Moormeier, M.D., chair of internal medicine, explained to the new class of third-year students, their families and friends how the white coat signifies a formal relationship between physicians and patients. It also reminds the owners of their obligation to practice medicine with clinical competence and compassion, she said.

“Each year, medical students throughout the United States accept these responsibilities as they receive their first white coats,” Moormeier said. “Soon, you will be part of this distinctive group and I encourage you to wear your coat with pride.”

At the School of Medicine, the ceremony is a rite of passage that recognizes the transition from an emphasis on classroom work to bedside care. Students were introduced to the docent units that will be their home base for the next four years. The docents who will serve as their mentors presented their individual students the white coats.

As a group, the students also recited the Class of 2020 Philosophy of Medicine statement. It was derived from a class project in which students are asked to reflect on their first two years of medical school and write their personal thoughts about the profession of medicine.

“To many, medicine seems to be just a career choice,” wrote one student. “To us, it has become a way of life.”

Their next step in that journey will take place as part of docent teams based on the Hospital Hill campus and at Saint Luke’s Hospital, which added a fourth docent unit this year under the guidance of new docent Jamie Lawless, M.D.

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation sponsored the first white coat ceremony nearly 25 years ago to instill a sense of professionalism and humanism among students as they begin their medical education. At the UMKC School of Medicine, the ceremony now highlights the students’ advancement to the third year of medicine school and their transition to the Hospital Hill and Saint Luke’s Hospital campuses.

“Today, the Arnold P. Gold Foundation White Coat Ceremony serves to welcome medical students as they begin their journey in medicine, and to remind the students of the professional guidelines that will be expected of them,” Moormeier said.

The ceremony also included the announcement of Rose Zwerenz, M.D., ’82, as recipient of this year’s Outstanding Years 1 and 2 Docent award. An associate professor in the Department of Community and Family Medicine and the school’s assistant dean for pre-doctoral education, Zwerenz has served as a docent for first and second-year students for almost 30 years.