Accepting Responsibility

Year three medical students receive white coats

The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine’s White Coat Ceremony unofficially signified the beginning of UMKC’s 2013-14 academic year.

The White Coat Ceremony Aug. 10 at White Recital Hall also represented the transition of 101 students in the School of Medicine’s innovative six-year B.A./M.D. program. From Volker to Hospital Hill campus. From classroom to bedside learning.

This group of Year 3 students — the class of 2017 — received their docent assignments, the real-life version of the Hogwarts house-sorting hat in the wizard world of “Harry Potter.” UMKC School of Medicine organizes students into groups of three or four mentored by a physician “docent” for their next four years of learning.

And the students were cloaked with white coats. Doctors wear the long garments for a reason.

“We white coat the students not to separate them from everyone else. We white coat them to give them a reminder of the importance of what they do; and to do it with responsibility, honor, justice and respect. That is the point of the white coat,” said Dr. Raymond Cattaneo, President of the UMKC School of Medicine Alumni Association, who spoke at the ceremony.

Dr. George Reisz, Department Chair of Internal Medicine and Chairman of the UMKC School of Medicine Docent Council, elaborated further as he presided over the ceremony.

“In the past century, the white coat has become one of the most recognizable symbols of the medical profession.  Physicians first wore it for practical reasons.  In the late 1800s, physicians donned short-sleeved white coats in the operating room to prevent contamination to both the physician and the patients.  Today, the white coat signifies the formal relationship that exists between physicians and patients.  It serves as a reminder of the obligation we have to practice medicine with clinical competence and compassion,” Reisz said.

Mitali Thanawala, Class Representative, read the Class of 2017 Class Philosophy Statement – a compilation of individual statements submitted by the class members. The statement focused on the responsibilities of physicians, such as remaining flexible and committed to lifelong learning to keep pace with a constantly changing profession.

“The art of healing requires compassion and empathy,” she said. “It is not just healing illness, but making sure the patient is emotionally, physically and spiritually well.”

Dr. Amgad Masoud was presented with the award as the Outstanding Year 1 & 2 Docent. The recipient of this award is selected based on his or her demonstration of exceptional skills in teaching and the pursuit of excellence in medicine.

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