White Coat Ceremony History

St. George’s University School of Medicine embraced the White Coat Ceremony in 1996 as an important ritual symbolizing a student’s induction into the medical profession.   The Ceremony was later introduced to the School of Veterinary Medicine in 2002.  It is significant not just to each incoming class, but for all who attend including: St. George’s University faculty; its staff; students’ families and friends; and the White Coat Ceremony keynote speakers who, twice a year, inspire the first term students with heartfelt words of wisdom and personal reflections.  It is their spoken contributions that we treasure, and are honored to share with past, present, and future generations of St. George’s University students.

How it Began

In the late 1980s, a group of distinguished physicians, medical educators and community leaders gathered to discuss their collective concern that as scientific and technological advances began to change the way medicine is practiced; medical practitioners were losing their focus on humanism in medicine.  Among those in attendance were the accomplished and dedicated professionals and philanthropists Drs. Arnold and Sandra Gold.  As a result of these consultations the Arnold P. Gold Foundation was founded in 1988 in order to facilitate the development and implementation of appropriate methods and programs to further humanism in medicine.

The conclusion of the Foundation was that the beginning of a student’s journey into medicine is the best time to influence standards of professionalism, humanistic values and behavior.  As the first step in this initiative, the White Coat Ceremony was introduced in 1993.  New medical students don a white coat, a symbol of their profession, and recite an oath making a commitment to henceforth maintain a professional attitude and demeanor in their relationships with peers, professors and colleagues, and demonstrate compassion, respect, empathy and altruism with patients and the community, including sensitivity to cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

A Symbolic Event

Chancellor Charles R. Modica traditionally welcomes students, their family, friends and the academic community to the White Coat Ceremony, along with the Dean, School of Medicine.
The symbolic event is conducted at the True Blue campus just before first term classes begin during Orientation week.  Students are asked to recite the Professional Commitment, written by the Student Ethics Task Force and St. George’s University Honor Code

The custom of carrying a ceremonial Mace has been incorporated into the event.