Medical student Class of 2026 receives their white coats

Ceremony marks entrance into the medical profession

“Humanism is compassion, selflessness care, emotional intelligence, generosity, sincere respect, humility, the list could go on,” Simona Ferioli, MD, told the 166 students in the Class of 2026 Friday morning at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine’s 27th Annual White Coat Ceremony. “But these are not single traits of exceptional individuals. They are part of all human beings. We all aspire to put our patients before our own individualities and personal interests.”

Ferioli, an assistant professor in the Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine, is the 2022 Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award faculty recipient and served as the keynote speaker during the ceremony at the Taft Theatre. She explained to the students and their family and friends how humanism entered her “osmotically” through many people and many moments as a young physician. She explained how on her first rotation in the emergency department a senior trainee boosted her confidence by how she was introduced to a patient. Later that year, a faculty member showed how they cared by the way they offered constructive criticism about her patient notes.

“You will encounter challenges: time constraints, lack of resources, preconceptions, agendas, burnout, growing divisions in our society, sometimes our own egoisms that will challenge and cloud the noble intentions that brought you here. It is necessary to seek those each day who can show you humanism, that will inspire you to care, to fear less about your mistakes, to risk when you find something you think can benefit your patients,” she said.

Faculty, students and families enjoyed the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine White Coat ceremonies at Taft Theater Friday July 22, 2022 in Downtown Cincinnati. Photos by Joseph Fuqua II

Simona Ferioli, MD, assistant professor in the UC College of Medicine Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation Medicine.

Ferioli added that the College of Medicine is filled with “teachers, mentors that lead by example, in whom humanism shines. Seek them out, personally, daily, and don’t be afraid to risk your time and energies to follow them.”

The first-year medical students spent last week in orientation and ended the week at the White Coat Ceremony. Philip Diller, MD, PhD, senior associate dean for educational affairs, and Stephen Baxter, MD, professor and vice chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, slid the white coats on the smiling students amid cheers and applause as Lisa Johnson, MD, interim associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, read each name. Nearly 40 of the students invited family or friends who were physicians to the stage to coat them.

“While this ceremony is meant to symbolize your entry into the medical profession, it obviously will not make you a physician. You will do that yourselves through hard work, dedication and sacrifice. You will learn and understand medical and scientific concepts, and then you will apply them to the practice of medicine,” Andrew T. Filak Jr., MD, senior vice president for health affairs and Christian R. Holmes Professor and Dean, told the students. 

“Wear your white coat proudly,” Filak added. “Wear it with humility, and wear it as a sign of your commitment to serve your patients and your community. Let it remind you daily of your dedication to healing and your oath ‘to do no harm.’ Each one of you has the capability to become an excellent physician and it is our fervent hope that you remain foremost a humanitarian."

The College of Medicine began holding a White Coat Ceremony in 1996, just three years after the late Arnold Gold, MD, a pediatric neurologist, held the first ceremony at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. Gold was a speaker at the College of Medicine’s first ceremony in Kresge Auditorium, returning to Cincinnati where he had been a resident at Cincinnati Children’s. Gold and his wife, Sandra, established the Arnold P. Gold Foundation in 1988 to enhance humanism in medicine. It was thought that celebrating the donning of a medical student’s first white coat and the recitation of an Oath of Professionalism would establish the importance of compassionate care.

The Class of 2026 wrote their own unique “Oath of Professionalism” during Orientation Week.

“We will partner with our patients, honoring their identities and values to provide equitable care. We will celebrate our differences and learn from one another to better serve our patients’ unique needs. We will recognize current and past injustices in medicine and strive to amend them,” the Class of 2026 recited in part during their Class Oath of Professionalism.

Faculty, students and families enjoyed the University of Cincinnati’s College of Medicine White Coat ceremonies at Taft Theater Friday July 22, 2022 in Downtown Cincinnati. Photos by Joseph Fuqua II

One-hundred and sixty-six students received their white coats at the College of Medicine's 27th annual White Coat Ceremony July 22.

All photos/Joseph Fuqua