White Coat Ceremony

White Coat Ceremony for sophomore nursing students, funded in part by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation The White Coat Ceremony is an iconic ritual that emphasizes compassionate, collaborative, scientifically excellent care from the very first day of training in the healthcare professions. The Gold Foundation established this tradition in 1993 at Columbia University as a way to highlight the importance of humanism in all care of patients. For nearly 30 years, the Foundation has seeded White Coat Ceremonies at medical schools and, starting in 2014, White Coat/Oath Ceremonies at nursing schools, around the globe. Read more about the background and significance of this iconic ceremony.

Whether you are hosting your ceremony virtually or with a remote component, please visit our White Coat Ceremony toolkit for downloadable banners, program templates, and keynote videos.

First time ceremony? Visit our planning guide.
Request “Keeping Healthcare Human” lapel pins here.

2021 keynote addresses

Starting in 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic moved White Coat Ceremonies to a virtual event, the Gold Foundation has offered video remarks by healthcare leaders, tailored to medical and nursing schools. Schools are welcome to incorporate these videos into their ceremonies. This is a free benefit for schools. They are not available for public viewing at this time.

The Gold Foundation thanks the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) for their support and assistance in creating these addresses.

The 2021 White Coat Ceremony virtual keynote address for medical schools features Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee, a medical education legend, the first African-American woman to be dean of a U.S. medical school and President-Elect of the American Osteopathic Foundation. There are two versions of the video; the only difference is the introduction. In the version for allopathic (MD) schools, she is introduced by Dr. Richard I. Levin, President & CEO of The Arnold P. Gold Foundation, and Dr. Alison J. Whelan, Chief Medical Education Officer of the AAMC. In the version for osteopathic (DO) schools, she is introduced by Dr. Richard I. Levin, President & CEO of The Arnold P. Gold Foundation, and Dr. Robert A. Cain, President & CEO of AACOM.


The 2021 White Coat Ceremony virtual keynote address for nursing schools features Dr. Deborah Trautman, PhD, RN, FAAN, President and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). She is introduced by Gold Foundation Trustee Dr. Lorraine Frazier, PhD, RN, FAAN, FAHA, Dean of Columbia University School of Nursing and Dr. Kellie Bryant, DNP, WHNP, CHSE, Assistant Dean, Clinical Affairs and Simulation Center | Columbia University School of Nursing.

School administrators should visit our White Coat Ceremony toolkit to access these videos and more resources for their event.