A Rite of Passage
Intended for first year students in medical, nursing and physician assistant programs, the White Coat Ceremony is a rite of passage that often takes place during the initial days of orientation. It serves to welcome students to healthcare practice and to elevate the value of humanism as the core of healthcare. It provides a powerful emphasis on compassion in combination with scientific excellence.
The most important element of the ceremony is the oath that students take in front of family members, school leadership and their peers to acknowledge their central obligation of caring for the patient.
Individual schools decide what their ceremony will look like. But all ceremonies include an oath or pledge, speakers, and some way to commemorate the occasion — whether it is with the presentation of a white coat to each student or some other icon of medicine and healthcare, such as a stethoscope, a hand blessing, or other. Visit our Medical Ceremony Toolkit and Nursing Ceremony Toolkit for ideas and guidance in planning your ceremony.