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White Coat Ceremony

doodle by Steven White of masked student being donned with a white coat by a masked faculty member


October 14, 2022
5:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.


Jefferson Center
541 Luck Ave, Roanoke VA  24016

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[Dean Learman]: Welcome to the white coat ceremony at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine for the Class of 2026. 

[Aubrey Knight, senior dean for student affairs]: In this ceremony, the white coat becomes not only a rite of passage, but also a symbol of the profession itself. The 32 women and 17 men who make up the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine class of 2026 represent 49 incredibly bright, accomplished and motivated students out of a pool of almost 6900 applicants. 

[Michael Nussbaum, surgery department chair]: This particular ceremony recognize the importance of your commitment to professionalism as you begin your educational journey in medicine. 

[Dean Learman]: There is much to celebrate today, and we hope that each of our students will take in this moment and feel the joy of this occasion. We also hope that your sense of celebration and meaning will transcend today and accompany you ,with the coat, throughout your careers in medicine. 

[Carter Gottschalk, class of 2026]: Over the last block, we asked the class to fill out a survey about what the white coat means to them. Some of the overwhelmingly recurrent themes we noticed were an emphasis on our humanity, our diverse background, but shared passion, and our closeness as a family of students. 

[Alyssa Sze, class of 2026]: The Class of 26 firmly believes that achieving our goals will require us to embrace our humanity, not abandon it, that we must recognize and celebrate our weaknesses as much as our strengths. We believe that the strength of our class comes from our diversity of skills, backgrounds and experiences, and that it is our responsibility to champion each other. 

[Michael Nussbaum]: As a student and future physician. Never lose sight of the people who have entrusted their lives and the lives of their loved ones to you, regardless of their means. Strive to make your best decisions on their behalf and wear your white coats with pride and confidence. Congratulations. 

[Dean Learman]: On behalf of all the physicians here today, it is with great pride and abundant expectations that I formally welcome the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine Class of 2026 to our profession.

White Coat Ceremony

The purpose of the ceremony is to clarify for students, prior to their entrance into the medical community, that a physician’s responsibility is to both take care of patients and also to care for patients. In other words, doctors should care as well as cure. The Arnold P. Gold Foundation designed the White Coat Ceremony to welcome entering medical students and help them to establish a psychological contract for the practice of medicine. The event emphasizes the importance of compassionate care for the patient as well as scientific proficiency and includes several elements:

  • Welcome to the profession of medicine by the dean and faculty
  • Recitation or discussion of an oath (such as the Hippocratic Oath or a student-written oath), which represents the public acknowledgment by the students of the responsibilities of the profession and their willingness to assume such obligations in the presence of family, friends, and faculty
  • Cloaking of students in their first white coats
  • An address by an eminent physician role model