“The process to get into medical school is so hard and you work towards it for years… you feel like you’re putting on a mantle of all the physicians that have come before you. It’s really exciting,” said Connor Workman, a first-year medical student. “It’s a confirmation that you’re supposed to be here, that all your hard work paid off.”
First-year medical students donned their white coats for the first time at Founders’ Day on August 5. The annual celebration welcomes a new class of medical students to campus, honors Feinberg’s founders and marks the official start of the academic year.
Workman, a member of the class of 2026, attended the event with his peers and celebrated with his family, including his wife and four-month-old son, as well as friends and the second-year students who presented first-year students with their white coats.
At the ceremony, first-year students recited the Declaration of Geneva, the modern incarnation of the ancient Greek Hippocratic Oath.
“I feel accountable, and it feels like a public declaration of my intentions. It feels real now and that’s an exciting feeling,” said Payton Fors, a first-year medical student.
Eric G. Neilson, MD, vice president for Medical Affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean, discussed Feinberg’s history of distinguished physicians and scientists and encouraged the class of 2026 to open their own new doors in the field of medicine.
“You have opened a new portal to your life work that focuses on medicine and science very few are privileged to enter; 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,” Neilson said.
Kathleen Hagerty, PhD, provost of Northwestern University, also encouraged students to excel.
“During this era, against the backdrop of society’s medical and social challenges, we have witnessed the critical importance of both scientific discovery and compassionate care around the world, and especially here in Chicago, home to Feinberg and Northwestern Medicine,” Hagerty said. “You have chosen the very best place to learn about both of these critical aspects of medicine as you embark on the next exciting chapter of your educational journey.”
Marianne Green, MD, vice dean for Education and the Raymond H. Curry, MD, Professor of Medical Education, led the white coat ceremony, in which second-year medical students helped first-year students put on their white coats for the first time.
“I wanted to be a physician for a number of reasons, but the strongest was really the ability to provide service and relieve human suffering,” said Asher Park, a first-year medical student. “Getting to interact with all my classmates, getting to talk to the faculty here and seeing how excited everyone else is about our journey makes me very excited about what’s to come.”
After the ceremony, Feinberg students, faculty and guests gathered at the Founders’ Day reception, sponsored by the Feinberg Medical Alumni Association.