School of Medicine

White coats, bright futures

UC Irvine School of Medicine Class of 2016
UC Irvine photo
Members of the Class of 2016 give a thumbs up during the White Coat Ceremony

Inaugural ceremony for new medical students marks first step in a lifelong journey

If a journey of a lifetime starts with a single step, for UC Irvine medical students that first stride took place on the Irvine Barclay Theater stage before friends, family and fellow classmates to receive their first physician’s white coat.

On the evening of Aug. 3, the 104 students constituting the Class of 2016 formed for the first time to participate in the White Coat Ceremony before an estimated 650 well-wishers. The event is a both a celebratory and solemn rite of passage, where these future physicians recited the “Oath for the Doctors of Medicine” and received a pin from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation to seal their commitment to provide compassionate and excellent care.

“The White Coat Ceremony is unique in that it celebrates both the end of a long admissions process and the beginning of their professional career,” said Dr. Ellena Peterson, the School of Medicine’s associate dean of admissions. “Having family and friends present to celebrate this transition makes this ceremony even more special. In a sense, it is a reverse graduation, one filled with pride, anticipation and hope for the future.”
Additionally, Dr. Philip Di Saia, professor of obstetrics & gynecology at UC Irvine and one of the world’s leading clinicians for gynecological cancers, highlighted the proceedings with his keynote address, titled “Giants of Medicine.”

The ceremony is only part of an orientation process ending with the start of classes on Aug. 8. But more than that, it’s a time when a diverse and driven group of men and women learn about each other and begin to forge lifelong relationships and help lead the transformation of healthcare in the U.S.

“Many medical schools talk about the changing role of medicine in society, but at UC Irvine – from the leadership to the students – there is a vision of what this change will be, and it is in line with what I want to accomplish,” says incoming medical student Sam Vesuna, a 2012 Yale graduate who received the first Dean’s Merit Scholarship. “I can’t imagine a medical career without research and innovation. That’s why I’m coming to UCI.”

As part of the vision, each student received with their white coats an iPad fully loaded with the first-year’s coursework, textbooks, notes and lectures. This is the third class to be given a tablet computer, which the students also will be using this year for the first time in their clinical rotations. It’s part of the innovative iMedEd Initiative, the first program of its kind to employ a completely digital medical education format while integrating tomorrow’s healthcare technology – such as portable bedside ultrasound – into their clinical training.

-- Tom Vasich