FAU’s Newest Medical Students Receive First Doctor’s White Coat
The members of the class of 2023 were selected from a diverse and highly accomplished group of 3,586 applicants.
Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine celebrated its ninth White Coat Ceremony at a symbolic event in the Carole and Barry Kaye Performing Arts Auditorium on the Boca Raton campus. FAU’s incoming class of 2023 was officially welcomed to the medical school, the university and the community during this time honored event.
“Today’s ceremony, which highlights humanism as the core value of health care, is the first step in your development as humanistic doctors who embody compassion, altruism, respect, resiliency, empathy and service,” said Phillip Boiselle, M.D., dean of FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine. “Today and every day forward, remember that the power of the white coat lies in how you conduct yourself while wearing it. On behalf of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, we officially welcome you to our family and into the practice of medicine.”
Stuart L. Markowitz, M.D., senior associate dean for student affairs and admissions in FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine, served as the master of ceremonies. FAU President John Kelly, and Michael T.B. Dennis, M.D., FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine’s advisory board chair and a member of the FAU Board of Trustees, provided remarks prior to the white coat cloaking.
“These white coats symbolize your entry into the medical profession and your commitment to uphold the highest ethical and professional standards,” said Markowitz. “As you are cloaked with your first white coat, always ponder this important question, ‘How will you measure up when you put on this coat every day after today?’ With this white coat, you now place yourself in the service of humankind. Congratulations and welcome class of 2023!”
This year’s keynote address was delivered by Elizabeth C. Gundersen, M.D., an assistant professor of hospice and palliative medicine, director of the ethics, professionalism and professional identity curriculum, and the founding director of the hospice and palliative medicine fellowship in FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine.
“Sometimes, you have to take off your white coat,” said Gundersen as she addressed the students. “Your white coat is sacred, but what you bring to it is even more important. Many times, your patients will want you to be their doctor not because of your white coat, but because of your compassion and humanism. Be present for your patients but also do the things that nourish your soul and bring you joy. Take off your white coat.”
Following the keynote address, students were cloaked with their white coats by Markowitz and Jennifer W. Caceres, M.D., assistant dean for student affairs and an associate professor of Integrated Medical Science in FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine. Each student was pinned with a “Humanism in Medicine” lapel pin by a member of the class of 2022. At the conclusion of the event, the students recited in unison an “oath” they collectively wrote, which will serve as a code of conduct they are committed to following throughout their education and as physicians after medical school.
The members of the class of 2023 were selected from a diverse and highly accomplished group of 3,586 applicants. Nearly one of every four students in the class is from a group underrepresented in medicine and will help to advance the college's mission to enhance diversity in the physician workforce. Approximately half of the class of 2023 received their undergraduate and/or graduate degrees from a “Top 50 University” ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Although most of the class members majored in traditional pre-med subjects, the class also is comprised of students with humanities and social science degrees, in keeping with the college’s recent recognition as one of the top medical schools in the country for liberal arts majors.
Most of the major colleges in Florida are represented including graduates from FAU, the University of Florida, Florida State University, University of Central Florida, Florida A&M University, and Florida Gulf Coast University. Other students in the class attended undergraduate institutions such as Columbia University, Yale University, Duke University, Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University, University of California, University of Notre Dame, among others.
In addition, the first two students from the “FAU High School M.D. Direct” program were welcomed to FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine during the ceremony. M.D. Direct places high school students from FAU High School directly in-line for medical school at FAU, jumpstarting their careers as young, aspiring physicians-to-be. National merit scholars Sarah Palumbo, 20, and Nadia Sial, 20, who were identified in their junior year at FAU High School met the rigorous entrance criteria for medical school.
Each student’s white coat was sponsored by members of the community as well as local businesses through a special fundraising event – White Coats-4-Care – co-chaired by Bonnie and Jon Kaye, Kaye Communications, Inc. This event also raised funds to provide vital student scholarships.
In addition, this year, to help welcome the next generation of physicians, the Palm Beach County Medical Society generously donated new stethoscopes to each member of the class of 2023. The stethoscope, a vital tool for conducting physical examinations, is one of the most enduring symbols of the medical profession.
Following the White Coat Ceremony, students and guests enjoyed a special reception generously underwritten by Dennis.
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.
As a community-based medical school, the Schmidt College of Medicine’s mission is to advance the health and well-being of the community by training future generations of humanistic clinicians and scientists. The college’s core values are Collaboration, Innovation, Respect, Compassion, Lifelong learning and Engagement (CIRCLE).