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Physician, alum underwrites medical school students’ white coats

closeup of a sleeve of a VTCSOM white coat showing the patch with Carilion Clinic and VTCSOM logos

The white coat. 

One of the most widely recognized symbols of medical professions.  

Steeped in tradition at medical schools across the country, the White Coat Ceremony is a much-anticipated event that marks the beginning of a student’s journey into the profession. Sponsored by the Gold Foundation, the most important element of the ceremony is the oath that students take in front of family members, school leadership and their peers to acknowledge their central obligation of caring for the patient.

For several years now, Virginia Tech alum and physician Richard Wardrop has underwritten the cost of the white coats at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.

“This profession has been such a rewarding thing to me that I wanted to share it forward in some small way that was meaningful to my Hokie roots,” Wardrop said. “I used to walk across the drill field as an undergraduate and dream about the day when Virginia Tech had a medical school.”

Wardrop, whose specialties are internal medicine and pediatrics, graduated from Virginia Tech in 1994. Currently, he is the program director of the internal medicine residency program at The Cleveland Clinic. He has a Ph.D. and a medical degree from The Ohio State University and completed his residency at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Wardrop was practicing at Carilion Clinic when the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine was being built and was a faculty member there for three years before moving out of the area. His wife Sarah, also a Virginia Tech alum, volunteered as an interviewer for the school’s Multiple Mini Interview process while in Roanoke.

Wardrop said he hopes his donation sends a message of the importance of empathy and humanism in the medical profession.

“The white coat is the key to patients’ hearts and trust,” he said. “It symbolizes a relationship that we, as physicians, don’t take lightly.”

“Dr. Wardrop is a vocal supporter of VTCSOM, its curriculum, and its students,” said Aubrey Knight, senior dean for student affairs. “He’s proud of the Hokie legacy that is being established at the school.”

Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine students receive their white coats in a ceremony soon after starting medical school.

Students at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine’s class of 2025 will receive their white coats in a ceremony on October 15 in Roanoke.