Seth P. Butler, a trainee in the emergency medicine residency program, cannot contain his delight as he dons his long white coat for the first time. Photo: Sandra Kicman
Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, addresses new residents at the annual Long White Coat Ceremony. Photo: Sandra Kicman
Roseanne C. Berger, senior associate dean for graduate medical education in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, addresses the residents. Photo: Sandra Kicman
New residents recite the Hippocratic Oath at the conclusion of the Long White Coat Ceremony outside the Jacobs School. Photo: Sandra Kicman
Published July 21, 2021
New doctors donned their long white coats for the first time during an outdoor ceremony June 21 at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in downtown Buffalo.
The seventh annual Resident Long White Coat Ceremony — sponsored by the Office of Graduate Medical Education (GME) — celebrated a transition for the new residents, as they donned their long white coats to replace the short white coats they received when they entered medical school.
This year’s class of 271 residents and fellows hails from 29 different countries and range in age from 24 to 43; the class is made up of 154 men and 117 women. Fifty-six of the new residents graduated from the Jacobs School’s medical education program, and seven graduated from UB’s School of Dental Medicine.
The ceremony was conducted along Washington Street, alongside the Jacobs School building. Banners hung from lampposts on Washington, High and Main streets to welcome residents and fellows.
“The uncertainty about the COVID-19 restrictions and the desire to congregate in person after a year of virtual learning and interviewing, created an imperative to welcome the new class of residents on the threshold of the Jacobs School, symbolizing the education hub of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus,” says Roseanne C. Berger, senior associate dean for graduate medical education.
“For me, this event symbolized a ‘new beginning’ for the residents and for our community.”
The ceremony began with an expression of gratitude and acknowledgement that UB resides on territory of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, a sovereign nation affirmed by New York State.
“This acknowledgement focused attention on the first inhabitants of this country at a time when we have been learning about the rich history and diversity of our people and the obligation we owe to them as doctors and dentists,” Berger says.
“The pandemic highlighted the disparities in health care that will affect this generation of physicians as clinicians, scientists, educators, colleagues and advocates,” she notes. “The humanistic behaviors and trust that is symbolized by the long white coat must be earned by thoughtful listening and deeds.”
Susan M. Orrange, GME’s assistant dean for education and resident services, explains that during residency, the support of peers becomes critical to residents’ education and practice.
“To emphasize the importance of humanistic and compassionate support of each other, the GME long white coat ceremony involves residents coating each other and celebrating together,” Orrange says. “The residents celebrate with photos and also by acknowledging the commitments they now make as doctors.
“We have personalized our GME Code of Professional Conduct, and residents recite a series of commitments they make: to a culture of respect, compassion and integrity; to patients and their families; to faculty, colleagues and staff; and to themselves,” she adds.
“This emphasizes the specific ways we value and expect professionalism here in Buffalo.”
The event concluded with a recitation of the Hippocratic Oath that is a tradition of the white coat ceremony.
“In the past, we have held the ceremony on the last day of orientation,” Orrange says. “This year, we decided to place it at the very beginning of the week, to serve as the welcome and foundation for all that follows.”
Berger delivered opening remarks at the ceremony. Other speakers included:
The event was planned in collaboration with UB’s Richard Sarkin Medical Emeritus Faculty Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, which launched the tradition of holding white coat ceremonies in the 1990s to symbolize that humanism remains at the core of all medical care.
UB is one of only 14 medical residency programs in the country that is home to a residency chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society.