Weekly Features


Class of 2018 embarks on first step of medical school journey at 2014 White Coat Ceremony

Aug. 14, 2014

On Friday, 352 men and women embarked on a four-year journey that will culminate with a medical degree from the IU School of Medicine.

Along the way, they will experience many memorable moments, not the least of which was the White Coat Ceremony Aug. 8 at the Old National Centre, 502 N. New Jersey St. The event marked the culmination of two days of orientation activities across the Indianapolis campus, including a student activities fair and first rounds on the six core competencies which underpin the curriculum at the School.

The ceremony opened with a welcome from Peter Nalin, M.D., executive associate dean for educational affairs. Jay L. Hess, M.D., Ph.D., dean of the IU School of Medicine, vice president for university clinical affairs and the Walter J. Daly Professor, delivered the keynote address.

You have been called to a profession that is intensely meaningful and rewarding," Dr. Hess said. "You will help bring new lives into this world. You will relieve pain and suffering. You can be a source of comfort to patients who are dying. With the sequencing of the human genome, the deciphering of cells intricate wiring and an understanding of how these pathways goes awry, you are in a position to build upon this knowledge to develop new cures for dreaded diseases about which the current generation of physicians can only dream."

Dr. Hess put a spotlight on some of the biggest challenges facing medicine, including the need to improve the experience and safety of being a patient, the need to help improve the health of the population and the need to reduce costs, and emphasized the role of curiosity and imagination in helping lead to innovation. He also cautioned students to guard against burnout and respective their own "physical, mental and spiritual well-being."

"Be alert that the challenges of modern health care aren’t draining your enthusiasm for the calling, and in turn your ability to empathize with and effectively care for patients," he said. "Be alert that money has become your master. Be alert for signs that you are spending your time 'fighting the system' rather than working than helping it run better. This country desperately needs good doctors and we really, really need your help if we are to make health care better."

After keynote address, and under the eyes of their family and friends, members of the Class of 2018 were presented with white coats, symbolic of clinical service, and assisted into the coat by a member of the IUSM faculty.

Coats were presented by David S. Wilkes, M.D., executive associate dean for research affairs and August M. Watanabe Professor of Medical Research; Sheryl E. Allen, M.D., associate dean for medical student affairs; ; Karen W. West, M.D., professor of surgery; and Andrew W. Beckman, M.D., assistant professor of clinical emergency medicine.

Additional presenters included the assistant deans and directors of all eight regional medical education centers: Patrick W. Bankston, Ph.D., of IUSM-Northwest; Steven G. Becker, M.D., of IUSM-Evansville; Derron L. Bishop, Ph.D., of IUSM-Muncie; Fen-Lei F. Chang, M.D., Ph.D., of IUSM-Fort Wayne; Gordon L. Coppoc, Ph.D., DVM, of IUSM-Lafayette; Taihung (Peter) Duong, Ph.D., of IUSM-Terre Haute; Mark M. Walsh, M.D., of IUSM-South Bend; and John B. Watkins III, Ph.D., of IUSM-Bloomington.

The program ended with another time-honored tradition: the reciting of a physician's oath, whose origins are attributed to the Greek physician Hippocrates, wherein each student pledges to dedicate his or her life to the service of humanity and always remember that the health of the patient is a physician's first consideration.

See all photos »