New medical students celebrate a rite of passage

Students at White Coat Ceremony
Photographer: Jonathan Heisler, Hofstra University Photographer
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The Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine celebrated nearly 100 new medical students beginning the transformation from student to professional during the annual white coat ceremony at the John Cranford Adams Playhouse. This year marks the School of Medicine’s sixth class to embark on this traditional rite of passage commemorated by medical schools throughout the country.

In the presence of family, friends, and mentors, including representatives of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, Hofstra Northwell students were individually cloaked in their first white coat by School of Medicine administration and faculty on Friday, Oct. 14. Together, the Class of 2020 also recited a pledge, adapted from the Hippocratic Oath, emphasizing compassion in medicine and the importance of the doctor-patient relationship.

“Today is a symbolic message to everyone that you have started a journey that will take a lot of work but will be filled with gratification every day that you have the privilege of caring for a patient,” said Dean Lawrence G. Smith, MD, MACP. “We know that you will reach the other side of this journey and be spectacular doctors.”

Comprised of 54 men and 45 women, the Class of 2020 represents a diverse mix of socio-economic backgrounds, academic and career experiences. Among this dynamic group of physicians-in-training is a graduate of Hofstra Northwell’s successful Medical Scholars Pipeline Program (MSPP) for high-achieving, underserved high school students, as well as a former Major League Baseball player who was a regular season member of the 2011 World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

“I knew that I wanted to be a doctor more than I wanted to continue playing professional baseball,” said Mark Hamilton, reflecting on his decision to leave the sport at the close of the 2014 MLB season. “Hofstra Northwell has a winning approach; [the school] demands teamwork and excellence from its students and faculty. I can honestly say there is no place I would rather be.”

Classmate Britney Nathan, among the first alums of the Hofstra Northwell pipeline program, is also grateful to be home.

“I appreciate the opportunity to come back to this great institution as a medical student,” said Miss Nathan, a resident of Hempstead and a Hofstra alumna. “It’s such a blessing to have my family with me to celebrate this moment, in addition to Hofstra Northwell mentors who have followed me throughout my journey from high school to medical school.”

The tradition of the white coat ceremony began in 1993 at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. Dr. Gold, a teacher and pediatric neurologist for more than 40 years at Columbia, noted at the 1991 commencement ceremony that students were reciting the Hippocratic Oath four years too late. He believed that it was much more apropos for students to receive their white coats and take the oath when they begin their medical training, particularly given that the initial years of training includes their first contact with patients.

Watch a video and see photos from the event:

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