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The white lab coat is one of the most visible symbols of the healthcare provider, a practical uniform that sets doctors, dentists, and nurses apart from others in a room and immediately commands attention and respect. Recognition of the responsibility of the healthcare professional early in the practitioner's training was part of the thinking that went into the creation of a white coat ceremony, when students first don this important garment.

In 1993, sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, an organization dedicated to humanism in medicine, P&S was the first medical school to perform the white coat rite, and the event has since become a tradition at more than 130 schools of medicine and osteopathy around the country, as well as numerous overseas schools. Columbia's dental and nursing schools, and others nationwide, also perform the ceremony.

"It's a wonderful privilege to be admitted into the profession of medicine," said Dr. Benjamin Carson, director of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University, as he addressed the incoming P&S class of 2006 at the white coat ceremony last month. Dr. Carson also spoke at the first P&S ceremony. "You will be in charge of the most important thing anybody has: Their life and their health."

Joining P&S, which celebrated its 10th white coat ceremony, the School of Dental and Oral Surgery, and the School of Nursing also welcomed new students this year with their own white coat rituals. In the above left picture, on the left, Dr. Arnold P. Gold, president of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and professor of clinical neurology and pediatrics, applauds after some of the new P&S students receive their coats. In the above right picture, new School of Nursing students stand while reciting the Maxwell Oath. Anna Caroline Maxwell, founder of Columbia's School of Nursing in 1892, believed nurses should make a public commitment to the responsibilities of their profession in an oath. In the bottom right picture, a new dental student smiles after receiving her coat.

Two awards were presented at the School of Nursing event by the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. School of Nursing dean Dr. Mary Mundinger received the state award for Nurse Practitioner Advocate, and Michelle Appelbaum, candidate for the doctor of nursing science degree, received the state award for nurse practitioner excellence.

Orientation days help new medical, dental, nursing, public health, and other graduate students get acclimated to Columbia University Health Sciences. Run by Renee Riley, assistant vice president of university housing at Health Sciences, and Dr. Michelle Brown-Nevers, executive director of student administrative services, the orientation this year introduced students to health insurance, mental health programs, the ombudsman's office, discrimination issues, security concerns, and other subjects facing a new student. Local vendors and university offices also described their goods and services to students during the Welcome Wagon event, pictured above, organized by Timothy Wagner, associate director of housing at Health Sciences. An evening dinner carnival—organized by Sasha Stewart, student services departmental administrator—allowed for interaction of students among schools and programs.

At a reception earlier this month toasting the Minimal Access Surgery Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, from left, Dr. Dennis Fowler, professor of clinical surgery at P&S and Cornell-Weill Medical College, and center director; Dr. Eric Rose, the Morris and Rose Milstein, Johnson & Johnson Professor and Chairman of Surgery; and Dr. Richard Whelan, associate professor of surgery at P&S and site director for the center, welcomed guests. The center opened earlier this year. Also hosting the event was Dr. Herbert Pardes, president and chief executive officer of NYPH. The center trains surgeons and residents in the latest laparoscopic techniques, which use smaller incisions than traditional, open surgical practices. Most of these incisions are less than a half-inch long, which allows the patient to recover much faster than with traditional surgeries. These procedures are becoming more common and will eventually become the norm for most surgeries.


Edward H. Shortliffe has been named deputy vice president for information technology in the Health Sciences Division and senior associate dean for information technology at P&S. His responsibility is to organize and coordinate the information resources that are available at the university's Health Sciences division, and to help faculty, staff, and students become aware of these resources. Dr. Shortliffe will retain his existing responsibilities as professor and chairman of medical informatics and professor of computer science. In his new position, he will oversee the information technology groups within Health Sciences, including the library, core resources, information technology, and the newly created security unit.

Mary D'Alton, professor of obstetrics & gynecology and director of the division of maternal fetal medicine, is now interim chair of the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and interim director of the Obstetrics & Gynecology Service in NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. D'Alton is well-known for her leadership in maternal fetal medicine. She is taking over for Dr. Rogerio Lobo, who has stepped down from both posts.


Daniel Vasgird has joined the staff of Columbia University as director of the newly created University-wide Office for Responsible Conduct of Research. The office has been charged with fostering and maintaining policies regarding research programs so they adhere to both regulatory and ethical standards. Such policies could include avoiding conflicts of interest, protocols for the treatment of human research subjects, animal rights issues, and environmental health and safety regulations. Dr. Vasgird's last position was at the City University of New York, where he was director of research conduct for the past two years, overseeing a system of 19 institutional review boards. He has a doctorate in sociology. Before CUNY, he worked in the New York City Department of Health, directing training programs, including health research training.

William A. Yandolino has been named the Health Sciences Division Business Officer, leaving his position at Columbia University as university chief accountant. Mr. Yandolino started with the university 20 years ago, as assistant cash manager in the office of the treasurer and controller. As the school's head accountant, he was responsible for preparing annual financial statements and monthly cash flow analysis, as well as other financial and reporting functions. He replaces Steve Getz.

Patricia Seymour has taken the post of acting executive director of the Institutional Review Board while the board continues to search for a permanent director. Ms. Seymour also is president of Kerwin Seymour Research Services and serves as a contractor for the Western Institutional Review Board. She has more than 20 years of experience in academic medical centers and the clinical research field and in past positions has worked as review board manager and research administration director.

The P&S 2001 Annual Report, Pursuing Excellence, published by the Office of External Relations, received this year's award for best non-profit annual report by the International Association of Business Communicators, New York Chapter. The prize will be presented in October at a ceremony at Parsons School of Design. In addition, Pursuing Excellence has been selected from more than 10,000 submissions to be included in Graphic Design magazine's annual publication featuring the best in corporate design for 2002. George/Gerard Design of New York City designed the annual report under the leadership of Glenn Peterson, associate vice president for communications.

Nathan Peña, seated, prepares for a dental checkup in the Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery Mobile Dental Van. He is surrounded by, from left, State Assemblywoman Aurelia Greene (D-77th District); Carolyn McLaughlin, executive director of the Citizens Advice Bureau; and Children's Aid Society dentist Joseph McManus. The van, a collaboration of SDOS with the Children's Aid Society, visited the Citizens Advice Bureau's summer camp in the Bronx in July to provide free oral health screenings to campers. The Mobile Dental Van travels throughout Northern Manhattan and New York City, providing oral health services to several thousand New Yorkers each year.