First-year students entering the University of Minnesota Medical School will undergo a rite of passage Friday at the annual white coat ceremony. It’ll be held at Northrop Auditorium on the university campus, followed by a reception for the students, their families and friends.
What’s the significance of the white coat? Until the late 1800s, physicians wore black, which was considered formal dress suitable for the seriousness of the doctor-patient encounter. But as science invaded medicine and the role of germs in transmitting disease became more clearly understood, white came to symbolize cleanliness and medical authority. (As it turns out, white coats aren’t so clean after all, and some medical organizations have decided to ban them – but that’s another story altogether.)
There’s an interesting account here that explains the meaning of the white coat ceremony:
… Students beginning their studies in medical school see their education and role as future physicians as aspiring to be worthy of the long white coat. Medical school must give students the scientific and clinical tools to become doctors. Just as importantly, the white coat symbolizes the other critical part of students’ medical education, a standard of professionalism and caring and emblem of the trust they must earn from patients.
A few tidbits about the U of M’s medical class of 2013: There are 170 students. Seventy-two percent of them are from Minnesota. There are six international students, one each from Canada, Mauritius, Nigeria, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.
Slightly more than half the class, 54.1 percent, are male; 45.9 percent are female. Their average undergraduate GPA is 3.74.
They have four long, hard years ahead of them. Let’s wish them well.