The Tufts University School of Medicine Physician Assistant Program holds its White Coat Ceremony in the spring of each year. The event serves to formally welcome the most recently matriculated class to the program in the presence of Tufts faculty, administration and staff, as well as the families and friends of the students. Students are proudly presented with their first white coat, a rite of passage that signifies their membership as colleagues in the healthcare field.
After receiving their coats, the students are led by faculty in a recitation of the Hippocratic Oath, swearing to fulfill the role of a medical professional responsibly and ethically. The program director reminds the students, “The white coat does not and should not shield clinicians from being human…it should not keep them from appreciating the emotions, concerns, and pain of their patients. It should not protect them from feeling. This is what the White Coat Ceremony is all about. This is why we are here today.”
White coat ceremonies are a recent occurrence, originating at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1993. Initially held for medical students, they have since expanded to other health professions, including physician assistants and pharmacists. The ceremony was developed by Dr. Arnold P. Gold, who sought to bring a humanistic focus to medicine.