Oct 25, 2008

During the White Coat ceremony for the class of 2012, held in the Unitarian church on Federal Hill in Providence, the dean of the medical school assures students they will be both challenged and rewarded, and that this is not the same conventional preparation you find at certain other stodgy old medical schools. He won’t name those but students believe he is referring to Harvard and Stanford, where he has been and which are focused on research rather than practice.

The next speaker is an adjunct professor of Community Health. He offers a reflection, which is that the White Coat is finally a pretentious reference to a hierarchical, and patriarchal approach to medicine that is no longer useful or appropriate. And yet the coast symbolizes a commitment to the higher virtures of the profession and oneself.

After the ceremony, 98 of the 99 students in the class of 2012 receive their short jackets, with an italicized name sewn in and a gold nickel-sized medallion with the image of Hippocrates. The missing student has been acting strangely it’s not a great surprise that he is missing. Each student has his or her photo taken with the dean. This is to go in the personal file and to be used in promotional materials. When the dean puts his arm around the candidates some of women follow their first instinct and put their arm around his waist, but then they quickly sense inappropriateness and withdraw.

After the ceremony there is a reception across the street in the

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