The newest class of student doctors at the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine (ICOM) took their first steps toward becoming physicians during the College’s sixth annual White Coat Ceremony on July 28.
In the presence of family, friends, faculty and staff, each of the 162 student physicians were welcomed into the medical community and “cloaked” with their first white coats.
During the ceremony, Dr. Kevin Wilson, Dean and Chief Academic Officer of ICOM, encouraged the student physicians to be the strongest advocates for their future patients. He also reminded them of what the symbolic white coat represents.
“The white coat represents a caring attitude, seeking understanding of your patients and their situation, and the professional behavior of honesty, integrity, altruism and compassion as an osteopathic physician,” Dr. Wilson said.
ICOM Associate Professor of Osteopathic Principles & Practice, Dr. Jenisa Oberbeck, led the Class of 2027 in reciting the Osteopathic Oath, which is again sworn during the traditional doctoral hooding ceremony four years hence.
James P. Souza, MD, Senior Vice President and Chief Physician Executive for St. Luke’s Health System provided the keynote address. Dr. Souza spoke with the future physicians about the importance of humanizing their white coat and making it a powerful symbol for good.
“Wear it with an appropriate dose of humility and the weight of the responsibility it brings. The responsibility, ultimately, to actually divest of your privilege so that you can come even closer and listen even better to the humans you are going to save, serve, be with, laugh with, suffer with, and lift up,” Dr. Souza said.
The physician’s white coat has been part of the profession since the 19th century. The concept originated from the operating room’s white coat, and has served as a visual symbol of the profession that stands for the need to balance excellence in science with compassionate caring for the patient.