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MEDIA CONTACT: Gisele Galoustian

FAU’s Fourth Class of Medical Students to Receive First Doctor’s White Coat at Symbolic Ceremony

BOCA RATON, Fla. (August 6, 2014) – The physician’s white coat has been the pre-eminent symbol of physicians for more than 100 years. On Friday, Aug. 8 at 4 p.m., the 64 students who make up the incoming class of 2014 will receive their first doctor’s white coats at the White Coat Ceremony to mark their entry into the profession of medicine and allow them to make solemn vows about the responsibility that this profession requires.

The event program will take place in the Barry and Florence Friedberg Lifelong Learning Center at 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton campus. The program will include a keynote presentation by Miguel “Mike” Lopez-Viego, M.D., a vascular and general surgeon at Bethesda Hospital East/Bethesda Health, titled “How Will They Remember You?” Stuart L. Markowitz, M.D., senior associate dean for student affairs and society dean for the Charles Drew Society in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, will serve as the master of ceremonies.

The White Coat Ceremony was founded in 1993 by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. The Foundation concluded that the beginning of a student’s journey into medicine is the best time to influence standards of professionalism, humanistic values and behavior.

 “When our students put on their white coats for the very first time, they are donning the mantle of responsibility of becoming a physician,” said David J. Bjorkman, M.D., M.S.P.H., dean and executive director of medical affairs for the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. “This moving ceremony is a sacred process and honor that means that when each student exits the building wearing his or her white coat, they will not be the same person they were when they entered the building.”  

The Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine’s incoming class comes from all walks of life with unique backgrounds that include a middle school math teacher, a portrait artist, a pharmacist, and the first student from FAU’s B.A./M.D. Medical Scholars Program at the Wilkes Honors College, who is the youngest member of the class at age 20. The Medical Scholars Program is targeted toward academically talented high school students who are assured a spot in FAU’ College of Medicine if they complete all requirements. The incoming class has a cumulative GPA of 3.7 and an average MCAT score of 32, which is above the national average.

Most of the major colleges in Florida are represented including 10 from Florida Atlantic University. Other students in the class attended undergraduate institutions such as Boston College, Duke University, Emory University, Johns Hopkins, Rensselaer Polytechnic, Stanford University, University of California at Berkeley, San Diego and San Francisco, University of Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt University, Yale University, and others.

Approximately 6 percent of the class is Hispanic, 13 percent is Asian, and 3 percent is African-American. Although most of the class members majored in traditional pre-med subjects, the class is also made up of students who have non-science majors, such as German. Approximately 80 percent of the incoming class has solid research experience.   

Members of the 2013 class of the medical school have been paired with students in the incoming class and will serve as mentors to the newly minted medical students. Each student will be pinned with a “Humanism in Medicine” lapel pin by his/her mentor during the ceremony. At the conclusion of the event, the students will recite in unison an “oath” they have collectively written, which will serve as a code of conduct they are committed to following throughout their education and as physicians after medical school. 

“The oath that these new medical students will write is more specific and more relevant because they wrote it themselves,” said Bjorkman. “It is also able to reflect the specific personal, technical, economic and societal issues that face our students today.”

 The White Coat Ceremony was established after a group of  distinguished physicians, medical educators and community leaders formed the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. More than 100 medical schools in the United States now hold White Coat Ceremonies. The reception following the ceremony is sponsored by Michael T.B. Dennis, M.D., chair of the advisory board of FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. The “Humanism in Medicine” lapel pins are provided by The Arnold P. Gold Foundation.  


Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit

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