Yale Medical School Students Formally Inducted In "White Coat Ceremony"

The “White Coat Ceremony,” at which newly enrolled students in Yale’s School of Medicine receive their traditional doctors’ coats, will be held on Yale’s Harkness Lawn on Tuesday, Aug. 31, at 4:30 p.m.

The deans of the individual medical school departments will put the coats, sometimes referred to as “cloaks of compassion,” on each student. Medical School Dean David Kessler will officiate at the ceremony, which is attended by friends and family.

The white coat, says Dr. Nancy Angoff, associate dean of student affairs and an internist who specializes in treating persons with HIV and AIDS, was first used in the late 18th century to prevent contamination during surgery. Over the years, it became the symbol of purity and life.

“Our students come here with maturity, compassion, sincerity, dedication, and an understanding of what it means to be humane. They also have an understanding of vulnerability,” says Dr. Angoff, who will give an address at the ceremony. “The significance of the ceremony is to call attention to those values and attitudes. We want the students to remember them and live them as long as they can.”

During the ceremony the 105 students also will recite the Medical School’s Human Relations Code of Conduct.

The incoming class is among the strongest academically in the medical school’s history. The 105 students have an average GPA of over 3.7 after completing majors and, in many cases, double majors, at 46 colleges, among them Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford.

The doctors-in-training also have accomplished much outside of academia. They are community leaders and successful entrepreneurs, published authors and highly regarded young research scientists. Some are talented musicians and artists, and others are outstanding athletes.

The Class of 2003 is global and diverse. Forty-four percent of the new students are women. Fifteen students are African Americans, 11 are Hispanic, and 22 are Asian Americans. The class is drawn from over 15 countries: Canada, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Hong Kong, India, Ireland, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Peru, Russia, South Africa, Taiwan and the Ukraine.

Harkness Lawn is located at 367 Cedar St., New Haven.

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