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At annual White Coat Ceremony, students kick off their medical careers

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2009 - Winter


The 100 students in the Class of 2012 include 51 women and 49 men, 24 graduates of Harvard and Yale, 24 members of ethnic or racial groups underrepresented in medicine and 26 who were born outside of the United States. They were selected from 4,139 applicants, and 46 took time off after college to pursue advanced degrees or research, health care consulting, teaching or volunteer work. “Many have been involved with health care programs in various parts of the country or other parts of the world,” said Richard A. Silverman, director of admissions. “This class has real depth of experience and a lot of talent. … It’s a pretty hard class to beat.”

At this year’s White Coat Ceremony in August, Dean Robert J. Alpern, M.D., Ensign Professor of Medicine, welcomed the new students with thoughts on the Yale system of medical education, whose tenets include no grades in the first two years or class rankings. “Were we trying to make it easier for you as students?” he asked. “The answer is that we expect greater things from you than grades could ever engender. We expect you to become leaders in the medical world of tomorrow.”

Frederick D. Haeseler, M.D., director of primary care clerkships and associate clinical professor of medicine, reflected on the art of medicine in the ceremony’s keynote speech. Defining medicine as having both human and scientific components, he said, “When physicians connect these two, they are practicing the art of medicine.”

Why did students choose the School of Medicine? For Ken Hui, who received his undergraduate degree at Yale, it was the people. “I thought they’d be really nice and really interesting and that’s definitely turned out to be the case since I’ve been here,” he said.

Sounok Sen, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, said it was the Yale system, which emphasizes a unique student-faculty collegiality and individual responsibility. “I wanted to use those values to learn medicine,” Sen said. Smiling, he added, “I think we have a good group. It’ll be a fun time.”