At White Coat Ceremony, 1st Semester Students Begin Their Journey As Physicians-In-Training

New students capped their first day of medical school by gathering in the school’s auditorium to participate in the traditional White Coat Ceremony.


Held at the beginning of each semester, the ceremony marks the start of students’ careers in medicine and symbolizes a shared commitment to uphold the values and tenets of the profession.

“Today marks an important moment in your life, when you commit to becoming a physician,” said Heidi Chumley, MD, Executive Dean at AUC. “It is also a promise to change yourself—to grow in more ways than you can possibly imagine right now. Because the study of medicine is a serious undertaking, we celebrate this important moment in your life with a ceremony.”

During the ceremony, members of AUC’s administration and faculty shared their own experiences as physicians and described the power and responsibility that come with wearing a white coat. Dean Chumley encouraged the students to work as a team to achieve their goals and Dr. Mark Quirk, Senior Associate Dean of Medical Education, challenged students to take active roles in AUC’s community. During his remarks, Dr. Colin Michie, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, called for students to be open to the growth and development that they will encounter during their studies at AUC.

The event also included a keynote by two AUC alumni, Drs. Olga Aleksandrova and Andrew Pleener, who met while students at AUC and later married after graduating in 2014.  The pair were vacationing in Sint Maarten in September when Hurricane Irma swept across the Caribbean and landed in Sint Maarten. After sheltering at AUC—in the very auditorium where this week’s White Coat Ceremony was taking place—they worked with students and faculty to set up a makeshift hospital on campus to provide medical care. The White Coat Ceremony was their first return to the island since Irma.

“As two AUC alumni, it is such an honor to stand up here amongst our future colleagues and deliver this speech,” said Drs. Aleksandrova and Pleener. “You, like us, were chosen to be here because you fit AUC’s culture. Over the next four years, you will learn how to become a leader, how to prioritize, take charge and be disciplined, and how to be ready for a crisis if immersed in one.”

One by one, new students were called on stage to be cloaked in their first white coat. After receiving their coats, students repeated the Modern Oath of Physicians in unison and pledged to serve their patients with humanism and compassion.

The White Coat Ceremony topped a week of orientation and welcome activities at AUC. In addition to welcoming new students for the January 2018 semester, AUC greeted second and third semester students who returned to Sint Maarten after studying in Preston, United Kingdom during the September 2017 semester.

>>Check out photos from the ceremony on AUC's Flickr