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First-year students mark the start of their medical careers at White Coat Ceremony

Clinton Ehidom (center) celebrates with fellow first-year students.
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Nearly 100 first-year students of the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell were presented with short white coats at a special ceremony held at the John Cranford Adams Playhouse at Hofstra University on Oct. 12. This year marks the eighth class from the Zucker School of Medicine to embark on a traditional rite of passage that recognizes the beginning of a career in medicine.

The White Coat Ceremony is celebrated at medical schools across the nation annually and holds a different meaning for every new student in training. For some it is a moment that represents the next step toward fulfilling the American dream.

Classmates and brothers (left-right), Aaron and Joshua Burshtein.

“My parents came to this country from the Ukraine and Belarus nearly 40 years ago for a better life, my brother and I were born in the United States,” said first-year medical student, Aaron Burshtein, who is taking the professional journey with his twin brother, Joshua, at the Zucker School of Medicine.  “We grew up with an awareness and appreciation that we have been afforded a tremendous opportunity to be able to pursue interests and work that is meaningful—for us that is medicine.”

The Zucker School of Medicine Class of 2022 hails from various regions, social and cultural backgrounds, including more than ten first-generation college graduates and newcomers like Clinton Ehidom (pictured above, center) who emigrated to the U.S. from Nigeria just eight years ago. Ehidom seized the opportunity by becoming a college valedictorian at age 19 and receiving acceptances to seven medical schools. He chose the Zucker School of Medicine.

“Receiving my white coat not only serves as a formal welcome into the practice of medicine, but it also motivates me to learn more and be the best possible physician because people’s lives depend on it,” said Ehidom, now 20-years-old. “It also serves as reassurance that hard work pays off as I have dreamt of this moment for a long time. I truly believe that I made the best decision by attending this medical school.”

Both Burshtein and Ehidom are among the first 36 recipients of a scholarship provided by Donald and Barbara Zucker who gifted $50 million last year to the medical school, renamed in their honor, to create a permanent endowment exclusively for students in financial need.  Scholarship recipients also include two alumni from the Zucker School of Medicine’s highly successful Medical Scholars Pipeline Program, an initiative designed to expose underserved youths to careers in the medical field.

“The Zuckers’ generosity and understanding of the socioeconomic barriers to education and career will further guarantee that our students have the chance to achieve their dream to become a physician without financial burden,” said Zucker School of Medicine dean, Lawrence G. Smith, MD, MACP.

At the Zucker School of Medicine, the white coat is presented to first-year students during later weeks of training instead of at the start like other institutions to recognize the students as not just new learners but colleagues in medicine. Leading up to the White Coat Ceremony, Zucker School of Medicine students learn and understand how to perform complete histories and physicals, study the scientific principles of disease, and become certified EMTs licensed by the state of New York. They already see the world through the eyes of both patient and caregiver.

“My experience at the medical school has been thrilling. It is humbling to be able to interact with patients and even influence their medical treatment at such an early point in my career,” said Ehidom.

His classmate couldn’t agree more.

“I worked with Zucker School of Medicine graduates during a summer research opportunity while in college. Their approach to care, expertise, and enthusiasm for the education they received helped me to choose Zucker as the school that aligned most with my goals and values,” said Burshtein. “I have experienced and learned more in a few weeks than I ever thought possible and have connected closely with my classmates. I am excited for what is ahead.”

Special thanks to the Arnold P. Gold Foundation for their attendance and support of the White Coat Ceremony. For more information about applying to the Zucker School of Medicine, visit medicine.hofstra.edu.

About the author

Adrienne Stoller

Adrienne Stoller is communications manager at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell. For more information about news items or media inquiries, please send a message to Adrienne.M.Stoller@hofstra.edu or call 516-463-7585.

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