The P&S Alumni Auditorium was filled to the brim with faculty, friends, and family as members of the class of 2014 made their entrance on Aug. 27, 2010. The 166 first-year P&S students were about to receive the white coat: a symbol marking the beginning of their journey toward becoming physicians.
The White Coat Ceremony has honored each incoming P&S class since 1993. Columbia was the first medical school in the United States to hold such a ceremony.
Presented by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and in memory of Russell Berrie, a noted philanthropist and generous benefactor of Columbia, this year’s ceremony featured Rita Charon, MD, PhD, professor of clinical medicine and director, Program in Narrative Medicine, as the guest speaker. In her talk, Dr. Charon emphasized the importance of the human connection between doctor and patient – a thread that echoed the opening remarks made by both Lee Goldman, MD, dean of the faculties of health sciences and medicine and executive vice president for health and biomedical sciences, and Arnold P. Gold, MD, chair emeritus, the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and professor of clinical neurology and clinical pediatrics.
As cameras and smiles flashed, each student was fitted with a white coat with the help of a P&S faculty member. Led by Lisa Mellman, MD, senior associate dean for student affairs, the new class recited the Hippocratic Oath, an innovation of White Coat Ceremonies now held in many U.S. medical schools. The oath traditionally was recited at graduation but is now part of the ceremony to remind incoming students of their commitment to humanistic patient care.
Also taking part in the ceremony were Jewelnel Davis, M.Divinity, MSW, university chaplain, and Robert Kelly, MD, senior vice president and chief operating officer, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Live music on violin and piano was provided by the P&S Musicians’ Guild.