Alexandra Williams picked up her crisp, white coat and listened to advice from second-year student Ryan Sacotte on August 15 as they headed to Founders’ Day, a ceremony that serves as the official start of the academic year.
“It is a special honor to receive my white coat and the responsibilities that come with it,” Williams said. “Having a second-year medical student as a guide and role model is nice as it connects us early-on to the program, and it’s someone I can ask a quick question to, someone who has been there before.”
During the convocation, Williams will be presented with her white coat by Sacotte alongside the other 164 members of the incoming Class of 2018. The event marks the culmination of the Introduction to the Profession Module, a week of activities to orient students to campus, give an overview of the curriculum and provide hands-on learning opportunities.
“Founders’ Day is the traditional start of our new academic year; it is also a new beginning for our students on a path that will lead them into careers of life-long responsibility,” said Dr. Neilson. “Feinberg, as it always has, will prepare you well for whatever path you choose to follow.”“You have opened a new portal to your life work that focuses on medicine and science very few are privileged to enter,” he continued. “There are a myriad of exciting times ahead for you, not the least of which is working in a medical center teeming with world-class hospitals.”
Following Dr. Neilson’s remarks, University Provost Daniel I. Linzer, PhD, congratulated students and encouraged them to take advantage of all Northwestern has to offer during the course of their education.
“It is a tough life to get to medical school and it gets tougher,” Linzer said. “I salute you for your dedication, your commitment to work hard and to care for people.”
Keynote speaker, Douglas Vaughan, MD, the Irving S. Cutter Professor of Medicine, addressed the students.
“The white coat represents our acceptance of you as colleagues,” said Dr. Vaughan, also chair of Medicine. “It also represents the honor and sanctity in our profession. The white coat does not provide you with the skills, the experience or judgment that will come with being a physician, that will take time and work.”
He concluded, “The next four years should be one of the most exciting and challenging times of your life. Make the most of it –learn everything you can and more. The world of science and medicine has never been as exciting. I wish you the most satisfying and successful journey.”
Led by Diane Wayne, MD, vice dean for education, faculty mentors Aaron Gilbert, MD, assistant professor in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Jessica Montalvo, MD, assistant professor in Medicine-Hospital Medicine, Boye Ogunseitan, MD, assistant professor in Medicine-Hospital Medicine and Angira Patel, MD/MPH, assistant professor in Pediatrics-Cardiology and Medical Education-Medical Humanities and Bioethics, and members of the Class of 2017 bestowed white coats upon the first-year medical students.
Marking entry to the profession, the incoming class recited the Declaration of Geneva, the modern-day equivalent of the Hippocratic Oath, repeating after Dr. Wayne, that the health of their “patient will be their first consideration” and to maintain by all means in their power “the honor and the noble traditions of the medical profession.”
Excited to receive her white coat and say the oath, Ayelet Cohen, a first-year medical student, said, “Reciting the oath with distinguished faculty members — and knowing the rich history behind the declaration — was my favorite part of the day, especially knowing that they are the values I will embody not only for the next four years, but for the rest of my career as a physician.”
Austin Culver, president of the Feinberg Student Senate and third-year medical student, presented the Student Senate Service Awards to members of the Class of 2017 who were selected by their peers in recognitions of their community service and leadership at the local, national and international levels during their first year at Feinberg. Award recipients were second-year medical students Jakita Baldwin, Rachel Chang, Timothy Janetos, Molly Lohman and William Webber.
Following the convocation, members of the Feinberg community and invited guests attended the Nathan Smith Davis Founders’ Day reception. Sponsored by the Medical Alumni Association, the reception honors one of the founders of the medical school, who also served as its first dean.
“After today’s ceremony I feel like I am part of the profession,” said Emmanuel Ogele, a first-year medical student. “To me the day was symbolic of community. As the mentors and second-year students gave us our white coats it reminded me that we are all working together as a team against disease.”