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Upholding the white coat tradition

Yale Medicine Magazine, 2020 - Summer


The MD Class of 2024 and the PA Class of 2022 held unusual welcoming ceremonies in light of concerns around COVID-19—which did not dampen the participants’ enthusiasm.

Two groups of new YSM students—the MD and the PA classes that entered in August 2020—started their medical studies by observing social distancing procedures for the traditional white coat ceremonies. The 100 MD candidates sat outside under a broad white tent six feet apart outside Harkness Memorial Hall, while the 36 PA candidates were presented with their white coats in Harkness Auditorium.

In what is becoming a common practice, individuals and family members wishing to attend the ceremonies were given access through a Zoom live stream during both events. Technology has played a key role in keeping communities connected while people are quarantined in order to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect immunocompromised individuals.

At the MD ceremony, Nancy J. Brown, MD, the Jean and David W. Wallace Dean of Yale School of Medicine and the C.N.H. Long Professor of Internal Medicine, delivered a powerful speech on the importance of maintaining one’s ethical compass as a healer and researcher. She also included the people who could not be physically present.

“For most of you in this tent, your families are the reason you are here. They have instilled in you a love of education and science, and qualities of compassion and empathy that have led you to choose the profession of medicine. They have nurtured you, encouraged your aspirations, challenged you to reach higher, and supported you when the reach seemed impossible,” Brown said.

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