After having their scheduled ceremony postponed in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Illinois College of Medicine Class of 2024 students celebrated the traditional White Coat Ceremony across the College’s three campuses in Chicago, Peoria and Rockford.
Students at Peoria celebrated on April 1, while students came together on April 8 in Chicago, with Rockford’s ceremony on April 9 rounding out the events.
“We are so proud of you for taking on the challenge of starting medical school during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said University of Illinois College of Medicine Executive Dean Mark Rosenblatt, MD, PhD, MBA, MHA. “You missed the traditional white coat ceremony upon your entry to medical school. But now we celebrate you even more, as second year students poised to begin your clinical work in earnest.”
The White Coat Ceremony is a traditional symbolic entry into the medical profession for first-year medical students. Except this time, these were second-year students.
“I think of it as a transformative day,” College of Medicine Rockford Regional Dean Alex Stagnaro-Green, MD, MHPE, MHA, said. “From this day on, you’ll be viewed differently by society, including your parents, your friends, your family, and, most interestingly, by yourself. You’ll have a different self-image. You’ll be seen as a member of a noble, altruistic, and healing profession.”
Full in-person ceremonies returned for each campus, celebrating the students, who are now transitioning into full-time clinical duties.
“The world of medicine and healthcare needs you,” College of Medicine Peoria Regional Dean Meenakshy Aiyer, MD, MACP, said. “We need your eager, bright minds, understanding and caring hearts, and your innovative and creative spirits. Resiliency, innovation, compassion, and adaptability are qualities that have carried us through this pandemic. Those same qualities will also serve you well throughout your career.”
Patricia Finn, MD, Head of the Department of Medicine and Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives, provided the keynote address at the Chicago ceremony. She spoke about the students’ next phase in their medical education journeys.
“When you start you clinical rotation, I’m often asked for my advice,” Dr. Finn said. “My advice is be your wonderful self. Be true, and be authentic. Remember why you did this. That will come back; I promise you. Your patients will adore you and care for you. And you will adore them. So just be yourself.