SUNY Downstate Holds Annual White Coat Ceremony Welcoming New Medical Students

Aug 16, 2016

Brooklyn, NY – SUNY Downstate Medical Center recently held its 22nd Annual White Coat Ceremony welcoming incoming medical students. At this year’s event, held in the Alumni Auditorium, 190 students newly enrolled in SUNY Downstate’s College of Medicine received white coats from Downstate faculty members, similar to the longer coats physicians wear, a symbol of caring for patients. The class will graduate in the spring of 2020.

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation founded the White Coat Ceremony in 1993, and Downstate began participating in the program the following year. According to the Foundation, the White Coat Ceremony is designed to mark a student's entrance into medical school and is now a standard ritual in most medical schools across the country.

During the Ceremony, each medical student is presented and "robed" with his or her short white laboratory coat, formalizing and welcoming the student's entrance into the study of medicine. Students also recite the Hippocratic Oath, which they will repeat when they receive their medical degree at their Commencement ceremonies.

Carlos N. Pato, MD, dean of the College of Medicine at SUNY Downstate, welcomed the new students and their families, saying, “You are entering our College of Medicine at a time of great change, when the future of health care in our nation is the subject of much debate. In addition, you can look forward to an era of extraordinary and exciting medical discoveries and technological advances.”  

Dean Pato continued, “These advances greatly enhance our ability to alleviate human suffering but at the same time you can expect to encounter a host of new medical and ethical issues. We will do our best to prepare you to meet these challenges. We have a long tradition of training physicians who are skilled in treating not just the diseases of the body, but also relating to the humanity of the person.”

The keynote speaker was Andrew Yacht, MD, senior vice president, academic affairs, and chief academic officer for Northwell Health, and associate professor of medicine and associate dean, graduate medical education for Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine. Dr. Yacht, who is a 1996 graduate of Downstate’s College of Medicine, told the incoming students: “This is a remarkable day and moment in your lives. As you put on the traditional white coat this afternoon, and recite the Hippocratic Oath, you are taking on a hallowed trust. This transformation does not occur overnight, and it will not come easily.”

He added, “You will spend many hours poring over your computers, books, and journals, and at times you will ponder whether there are easier paths, and other career choices. There are, but few that will give you such profound satisfaction of healing and serving humanity.”  

This year’s incoming class at Downstate’s College of Medicine includes 147 students from New York State; 98 from New York City’s five boroughs; and 30 from Brooklyn. In addition, 11 are from SUNY colleges and 36 are from CUNY campuses. Students range in age from 21 to 33; 111 are male and 79 are female. 

The White Coat Ceremony at Downstate is supported by the SUNY Downstate College of Medicine and the College of Medicine Alumni Association.



About SUNY Downstate Medical Center

SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively.

SUNY Downstate ranks twelfth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools. More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.