Every ceremony is unique, as each school adds their own special sense of place, history, and culture. Yet there are consistent elements. The list below features the elements essential to the White Coat Ceremony, which is, at its core, a ritual that emphasizes the importance of humanism in healthcare from the beginning of the clinician’s journey.
Oath to humanistic patient care: The central component of any White Coat Ceremony is the oath signifying the commitment to patients, which students read or recite together. Schools select an oath based on their own tradition. Many oaths are created by the students or faculty, and it is typically the same oath recited at commencement.
Early in training: It is important to hold this ritual at the start of medical education, in order to demonstrate the significance of humanism early in training and professional identity formation.
Focus on humanism: The emphasis on humanistic patient care can be delivered through a keynote address and/or highlighted in remarks from medical school leadership. Schools may also ask students to reflect on compassionate, collaborative, and scientifically excellent care through writing, discussions, or other initiatives.
Pins: The Gold Foundation offers white “Keeping Healthcare Human” lapel pins to be worn on the white coats and given to each medical student at the ceremony. The gold Möbius loop on the pin represents the critical bond between clinician and patient that is at the heart of compassionate care. Thanks to our supporters, we provide these pins without cost to medical schools. School administrators can request pins using our online form at least 30 days in advance of the ceremony date.
Please remember to acknowledge The Arnold P. Gold Foundation for the pins in your ceremony program, and we encourage you to include a brief statement about the background and significance of this ritual in your ceremony program.