The White Coat Ceremony at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (ISMMS) is a rite of passage for beginning medical students that marks their official entry into professional training. During the Ceremony, the students receive their first white coats from distinguished members of the School’s faculty, a solemn confirmation of the students’ commitment to professionalism, excellence, and empathy as they embark on their medical careers.
White Coat Ceremony
White Coat Ceremony 2020
On Tuesday, October 13, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai welcomed 140 first-year students to the Class of 2024, during the School’s first ever virtual White Coat Ceremony. The ceremony, which was a mixture of pre-recorded videos and live remarks, celebrated the Class of 2024’s courage and resilience as they brave a new journey as future physicians and scientists in the face of a public health crisis.
During the ceremony, the Class of 2024 shared what the white coat means to them; many of whom intimated it being a symbol of continued curiosity and life-long commitment to care for all communities in need. As in previous years, the incoming class created a Student Oath, which reflects the School’s core mission of advocacy, humanism, and excellence in patient care. In the opening words of this year’s oath, the Class of 2024 recognizes the crucial time they are entering the medical profession, namely, in the “midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and its striking health inequities; as Black Lives Matter and protests against police brutality sweep the country; and millions of people are unemployed and facing eviction.” In response, the Class of 2024 promises to: commit to being allies to their future patients; to recognize their role and responsibility as representatives of the healthcare community during the COVID-19 pandemic; and to acknowledge the impact that socioeconomic, political, and other structural forces have on the health of their patients and the communities they will serve.
Since 2018, the Icahn School of Medicine has dedicated the White Coat Ceremony’s Keynote Speaker presentation to the late Hans Popper, MD, PhD—a world-renowned physician and academic leader who was President and Dean Emeritus of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. This year, the School bestowed that honor to two alumnae: Mary Nwosoucha, MD, ISMMS ’19, and Katleen Lozada, MD, ISMMS, ’20. Drs. Nwosoucha and Lozada addressed the Class of 2024 with their personal journeys to and pivotal changes during their medical careers. They challenged the class to always reflect on the reasons why they decided to become doctors, and, when all else fails, to return to their core values and commitment for society. “Being a medical student is powerful, honorable, invaluable,” Dr. Lozada says. She continued, “You are now in a position where you can use your incredible intelligence, empathy, diversity, cultural competence, and mighty will, to make a difference in our community.”
Recognizing the air of uncertainty this year, Kenneth L. Davis, MD, President and Chief Executive Officer, Mount Sinai Health System, spoke warmly to the incoming class, reassuring them that they are the center of the health system, and the School’s top priority. He said, “Our mission is to maximize your potential, to give you the space to find your passion, and to support you from the moment you put on your white coat, and throughout your career.” Dr. Davis charged the class to rise to their fullest potential, and to remember that their future discoveries, pursuits, and collaborations are all in their hands.
Following those remarks, Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, and President for Academic Affairs, Mount Sinai Health System, shared some of his own, and inspired the class to continue their decisive determination to change the world of medicine and scientific discovery. “By joining the entering class, you’ve made a bold and selfless statement: You are ready to learn; you are prepared to fight to improve the health of our populations,” he observed. He expressed the weighty symbolism donning the white coat requires of the new class, namely that they will have to apply their intelligence, grit, and creativity to become compassionate healers.
Other speakers this year included David Muller, MD, Dean for Medical Education who reminded the class to display the courage, fortitude, and activism that our global communities need now more than ever; and Richard A. Friedman, Co-Chariman of the Boards of Trustees, Mount Sinai Health System, who assured the new class that their white coats represent “a future rich with promise.” This year’s oath reader,Craig Katz, MD, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, led the Class of 2024 in a live reading of their Student Oath, and shared the behind-the-scenes story in creating it with them.
The Class of 2024 was selected from a pool of 5,516 applicants, more than650 of whom were interviewed. The incoming students, whose ages range from 21 to 31, represent diverse backgrounds and experiences: 20 percent identify as underrepresented in medicine (URM), and 50 percent are women. They are alumni of 66 college institutions, with majors in science, the humanities, and the arts. In addition, 26 percent of the class are beneficiaries of the School’s recently launched Enhanced Scholarship Initiative (ESI)—an institutional scholarship program that allows qualifying entering and current ISMMS students to graduate with a maximum debt of $75,000.
We begin our medical careers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and its striking health inequities, as Black Lives Matter and protests against police brutality sweep the country and millions of people are unemployed and facing eviction. The last few months have taught us that protecting the health of our patients is as much a social responsibility as a biomedical practice. We are called to reckon with our duty as advocates and our own humility in facing the magnitude of the inequities affecting ourselves and our patients.
Recognizing the gravity of the moment and the weight of our chosen profession, we, the students of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Class of 2024, pledge to:
- Humbly accept the privilege of our medical education, embrace the limits of our training, and consistently ally with our patients in their healing.
- Use evidence-based medicine to treat every patient to the best of our ability, regardless of any individual characteristics, group memberships, or ability to pay.
- Commit our fullest attention to address patients’ specific concerns, appreciate their individuality, and provide care with empathy.
- Appreciate the impact that socioeconomic, political, and other structural forces have on the health of our patients and communities and apply that knowledge in their service and in the service of public health.
- Serve as agents for social justice by fighting against healthcare inequity, racism, police brutality, gun violence, climate change, and other injustices. We view this activism as integral to the profession of physicians.
- Embrace a collective responsibility as representatives of the healthcare community during the COVID-19 pandemic to model public health behavior and use this experience to inform our careers as physicians.
- Become leaders in our field who value and partner with all who contribute to our patients’ health.
- Pursue lifelong learning with wonder and curiosity.
- Nurture the well-being and individual identities of ourselves and our colleagues in recognition that this impacts the care we provide to our patients.
And, so, it is with stubborn optimism and a love for humanity that we strive to embody these ideals and to advance the field of medicine.
Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
Medical Education Oath
The mission of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai is to produce physicians and scientists who are prepared to enter society as informed advocates and activists who are able to advance clinical care and science and promote change.
We, the faculty, seek to embody this mission and so pledge the following to you, our students, in our effort to help you to become the best possible physicians and your best possible selves:
- To serve as models for caring, competent, and unbiased care of our patients.
- To engage you in the joy and privilege of practicing the art and science of medicine and the rewards of learning for life.
- To uphold the highest standards in scientific and medical research.
- To inspire you to respect the art and science of medicine, but also to question the status quo.
- To recognize that our opportunity to teach is also our opportunity to learn.
- To not just teach, but also nurture.
- To share of both our craft and ourselves.
- To demonstrate that self-examination means as much as examinations.
- To be kind in evaluating you and ourselves.
- To never lose sight of our wellness and the wellness of all of those around us.
- To have the courage to stand up for the oppressed and vulnerable and against prejudice and racism in all that we do.
- To be aware of our own biases and those around us and strive to eliminate them.
- To meet you where you are and get you where you want to be.
- And, finally, to never forget as physicians, scientists, and educators what we know as human beings.