White coat ceremony
The white coat ceremony (WCC) is a relatively new ritual in some medical (both M.D. and D.O.), optometry, audiology, dental, chiropractic, occupational therapy, physical therapy, podiatric, pharmacy, physician assistant, clinical psychology, and veterinary medical schools that marks the student's transition from the study of preclinical to clinical health sciences. At some schools, where students begin meeting patients early in their education, the white coat ceremony is held before the first year begins.
WCCs typically address the issue of medical ethics and praise rising students for their success in completing the basic science coursework of medicine, veterinary medicine, optometry, audiology, dentistry, podiatry, pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, clinical psychology, physician assistant, advanced practice nursing (Nurse Practitioner, Nurse anesthetist, Clinical nurse specialist, Nurse midwife). A reading of the Hippocratic Oath is common, and family and friends are typically invited.
Over 100 medical schools in the USA now have a WCC, and many students now consider it a rite of passage in the journey toward a healthcare career. Some schools also use this as a graduation from the entire program as well. For example, Moreno Valley College has a White Coat Ceremony for the Physician Assistant students at the end of their final term, where the short coats are discarded and long coats are given as a symbol of being equal clinicians to others who have earned the long coats.
According to some[who?], WCCs have taken on a quasi-religious significance, that symbolizes a "conversion" of a lay person into a member of the healthcare profession and is similar to a priest's ordination to priesthood. Although it is notable that the white coat is a recent adoption of the medical profession.
In the nineteenth century respect for the certainty of science was in stark contrast to the quackery and mysticism of nineteenth century medicine. To emphasize the transition to the more scientific approach to modern medicine physicians sought to represent themselves as scientists and began to wear the most recognizable symbol of the scientist; the white laboratory coat. This led to the more recent association of the white coat with medicine since it's continued adoption.
WCCs originated in University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine in 1989, but the first full-fledged ceremony was at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Since starting in the US, several medical schools in countries outside of the USA (such as Iran, Israel, Canada, UK, Dominican Republic, Brazil and Poland) have also started holding WCCs. The ceremony is no longer limited to medical students; starting in 1995, US pharmacy schools started holding WCCs, with the difference that most pharmacy students receive their coats at the end of their first academic year. In 2003 a survey found that the majority of US pharmacy schools hold WCCs.
In December 2006 the first white coat ceremony was held by Fatima Jinnah Dental College (FJDC), in Karachi, Pakistan.
On October 13, in 2010, the faculty of medicine at the University of Cologne, Germany, became the first German-speaking University to integrate this ritual into its programme. Initiated by then-student representative Hormos Salimi Dafsari in Cologne, the ceremony has been spread to various German cities such as Leipzig and Halle via channels of the German Medical Students' Association (bvmd).
On April 12, 2010, The University of Queensland's(Australia) School of Pharmacy became the first in Australia to adopt the ceremony for its incoming Bachelor of Pharmacy students.
In September 2011, Jagiellonian University in Krakow became the first medical school in Poland to introduce a white coat ceremony for the incoming class. "
On February 28, 2011, the Faculty of Medicine at the Università del Piemonte Orientale "Amedeo Avogadro" in Novara became the first Italian medical school to introduce a white coat ceremony for its third year students.
On October 5, 2012, the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy "Gr. T. POPA" of Iasi, Romania, became the first Romanian university to integrate this ritual, for its first year medical students, into the symbolism of developing as a physician.
On October 8, 2012, the Medical University of Graz became the first university in Austria to celebrate a White Coat Ceremony of its third-year students.
On December 6, 2012, the School of Medicine at the All American Institute of Medical Sciences, Jamaica, became the first in Jamaica to introduce this ritual, for its Basic Sciences medical students.
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