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 2021
On Tuesday, September 14, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai welcomed 120 first-year medical students to the Class of 2025, during the School’s 24th annual White Coat Ceremony. Held at Lincoln Center’s outdoor venue, Damrosch Park, the ceremony celebrated the Class of 2025’s courage and resilience as they brave a new journey in the face of an ongoing public health crisis.
In his opening 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, acknowledged this fact and reassured the class of Mount Sinai’s commitment to providing the best educational experience to them. Despite the uncertainty of the world, Dean Charney intimated his confidence that the training provided at the School and the demands of the pandemic will enhance the incoming class’s educational experience and facilitate their personal growth to becoming the next generation of outstanding physicians and scientists. Dean Charney followed his sentiments with examples of Mount Sinai’s own heroes, who relentlessly found a way to overcome some of this past year’s toughest challenges, and reminded the new class that ‘this is their Mount Sinai.’ Encouraging the class to remember what drew them to medicine, Dean Charney concluded with a final charge to the new students: “You will have many medical facts to memorize and learn, but do not forget to let your imagination run wild, to lead, and to seek solutions to the most difficult problems we face as people.”
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 alumna Azalea Kim, MD, MBA, MPA ISMMS ’14, Chief Care Innovation and Design Officer of Cityblock Health and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine of Duke University School of Medicine. Dr. Kim addressed the Class of 2025 with an imperative theme of ‘keeping healthcare human,’ recognizing the current climate of vulnerabilities, inequities, and shared grief physicians across the nation are experiencing. “I think the most human thing I can say about health care is to say, ‘It’s not OK. And that it’s OK to not be OK,’ she opens. Dr. Kim acknowledges that the Class of 2025 is beginning their new careers in medicine at a time of awakening and urgency to rethink systems, methods of care, and the meaning of the white coat. She concludes by giving the new medical students the courage to challenge, dismantle, and rebuild health systems to create ones that value health outcomes and deliver equitable care to all. Of this work, she reminds the class: “You belong here. You are not alone. We are in this together.”
Days prior to the ceremony, the Class of 2025 created their own Student Oath during an introductory session led by Craig Katz, MD, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Jacob Appel, MD, MS, MPH, Associate Professor of Psychology. As in previous years, the Class of 2025’s oath reflects the School’s core mission of advocacy, humanism, and excellence in patient care, and responds to the global pandemic and the rising surge of social and health inequities. Throughout their medical careers, the Class of 2025 promises to: commit to dynamic learning, teaching, and research and courageously rethink traditions; humbly advocate for and collaborate with their patients, team, and community; provide equitable care to people of all identities; and more. Yvette Calderon, MD, Professor and Site Chair, Department of Emergency Medicine led the class in a recitation of their oath during the ceremony.
The School selected the Class of 2025 from a pool of 6,990 applicants, from which nearly 600 were interviewed. The new students, whose ages range from 20 to 34, represent diverse backgrounds and experiences: 28 percent identify as underrepresented in medicine (URM), and 51 percent are women. They are alumni of 50 college institutions, with majors in science, the humanities, and the arts. In addition, 18 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.
The 2021 White Coat Ceremony programs are available to view and download in English, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese.