Next Generation of AUC Physicians Welcomed in During White Coat Ceremony

The January 2023 class represents six countries, three generations, and a diverse range of personal and professional experiences

More than one-hundred new medical students received their short white coats during AUC’s White Coat Ceremony on Monday, January 7. The event closed out a week of orientation for incoming students and served as their official welcome to AUC and the medical profession.

For students like Emily Ostrander, the ceremony was the realization of a dream to one day practice medicine.

“As the first in my family to join the medical field, I felt a great sense of accomplishment and pride as I wore my white coat,” she said. “It has been six years of rigorous college courses to get to this moment. The pain, sweat, and tears of those years all seem worth it now and I cannot wait to continue this journey with my new classmates!”

The White Coat Ceremony is a tradition at many U.S. and Canadian medical schools dating back to the early 1990s. During the event, faculty members cloak new students in their white coats before leading the group in the modern oath of physicians. That exchange symbolizes a passage of trust to the student to uphold the values and tenets of medicine and respect the responsibility of the profession.

“It was a connection between two worlds—a moment where I made a lifetime commitment to selflessness in the face of long hours and sleepless nights,” said first semester student Dmitri Villanueva. “This was my promise to always protect the patients I will serve, to be cautious yet firm in my decision-making, and to remain humble, understanding that each patient represents a unique situation to learn and grow from.”

As students like Dimitri walked across the auditorium, a fuller picture of AUC’s January 2023 class emerged. They are citizens of the United States, Canada, India, Nepal, Nigeria and Ghana, and hail from 29 states, Puerto Rico, and two Canadian provinces. They are members of Generation X, Y and Z, and hold degrees in fields ranging from anthropology and chemistry to economics and zoo biology. Some are the first in their family to attend medical school while others grew up in hospital wards and clinics. Regardless of their upbringing, they are united by the determination and passion to become a doctor.

To help them on that journey, keynote speaker and AUC alumnus Dr. Brian Hachey (Class of 2013) offered his perspective and a few words of advice.

“I genuinely enjoyed my time in medical school but it wasn’t until after graduation that I truly realized how valuable of an experience it was,” he said. “I could have stayed in my home city and tried my luck attending medical school there but instead I was blessed with the journey of a lifetime and got to experience life in many wonderful places while receiving a top notch education.”

As for advice, Dr. Hachey implored students to support one another and to learn from those with unique backgrounds and experiences. He also urged students to explore their new environment and take advantage of the opportunity to grow, enjoy friendships, and meet challenges together.

After receiving their white coats, students and their guests attended a reception event at nearby Porto Cupecoy marina. The celebration was festive if not short as the new physicians-in-training had to prepare for their first day of class on Tuesday.