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Incoming M1 Students Receive White Coats

The University of Illinois College of Medicine celebrated its incoming class of medical students on Friday, Aug. 11, 2023, with the 29th annual White Coat Ceremony.

More than 300 students from across the College of Medicine’s three campuses received their coats as part of a symbolic entry into the medical profession.

Chicago Campus Heading link

The Chicago campus, with 181 first-year students, held its White Coat Ceremony at the Isadore and Sadie Dorin Forum.

“I’m fortunate as executive dean to be present for a number of celebrations,” College of Medicine Executive Dean Mark Rosenblatt, MD, PhD, MBA, MHA, said. “This is really one of my favorite celebrations, given that this is going to be a tremendous and transformative journey for our medical students. And they’re an amazing class. We’re very excited to welcome to you to our college and also to this profession.”

UIC Chancellor Marie Lynn Miranda, PhD, who took office in July, took part in her first White Coat Ceremony at the College of Medicine, speaking to the first-year medical students about choices.

“We spend a lot of time in our lives thinking about what’s the right choice to make,” Chancellor Miranda said. “What I would say to all of you: Life is really about making your choices right. You made the choice to come here, and there are a series of things that go along with coming here. I encourage you think about how you work to make this choice right for you. You’ll make a whole series of choices every day that are all about making your choice to come to UIC’s College of Medicine right.”

Monica Vela, MD, FACP, director of the Hispanic Center of Excellence at the College of Medicine, encouraged students to never stray from their values. Dr. Vela shared the values she most treasures, including equity, respect, courage, trustworthiness, and humility, while also pointing out honesty, integrity, compassion, and service. But there is one other that guides Dr. Vela.

“Of all the values and virtues I’ve learned to cherish and work on, I cherish none more than love, love of my fellow human,” Dr. Vela said. “I implore you to engage with each other and to find love for each other. This road is difficult, and it can be challenging. It can be exhausting. It can be exalting.

“But you need not travel alone. I urge you not to do it alone. You will find some incredible people in your future. Surround yourselves with your peers, your teachers, and your deans at the bedside in the operating room, in the classroom, and those late nights in the library, where they can bear witness to your trials and also your tribulations, and support you in both.”

Peoria Campus Heading link

At Peoria, 64 first-year medical students received their white coats.

“Today we welcome you to the family of physicians,” College of Medicine Peoria Dean Meenakshy Aiyer, MD, FACP, said. “We hold today’s White Coat Ceremony at the start of your medical school journey, and ceremoniously, but indelibly, tie humanism with the practice of medicine. … In the months and years to come, you will be introduced to and master vast amounts of information – anatomy, pathology, human systems – and while this is significant, it still remains secondary to the fact that your future patients are people who need and deserve your compassion and understanding as well as your expertise and clinical care.”

Rockford Campus Heading link

At Rockford, 56 first-year medical students were honored with white coats.

“This is a transition point in your lives,” College of Medicine Rockford Dean Alex Stagnaro-Green, MD, MHPE, MHA, said. “The real transition occurs slowly and almost imperceptibly. As you gain knowledge and interact with professionals and patients, you will develop your own persona. During those times, you will ask yourself what kind of physician you want to be. How are you going to interact with your patients and how much care and respect will you give them.”