The Arnold P. Gold Foundation designed the White Coat Ceremony to welcome entering medical students and help them to establish a psychological contract for the practice of medicine. The event emphasizes the importance of compassionate care for the patient as well as scientific proficiency and includes several elements:
Welcome to the profession of medicine by the Dean and Faculty
Recitation or discussion of an oath (such as the Hippocratic Oath or a student-written oath) which represents the public acknowledgment by the students of the responsibilities of the profession and their willingness to assume such obligations in the presence of family, friends, and faculty
Cloaking of students in their first white coats
An address by an eminent physician role model
Celebration at a reception with students' invited guestsThe White Coat Ceremony was initiated on August 20, 1993 at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. Grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 1996 and 1997 made future and widespread advocacy of this celebratory and solemn event possible. Currently, a White Coat Ceremony or similar rite of passage takes place at more than 90% of schools of medicine and osteopathy in the United States, as well as at all four medical schools in Israel.
The White Coat Ceremony was initiated on August 20, 1993 at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. In 1994, New Jersey Medical School held its first annual White Coat Ceremony, becoming the nation’s second medical school to do so. Grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 1996 and 1997 made widespread advocacy of this celebratory and solemn event possible. Currently, a White Coat Ceremony or similar rite of passage takes place at 96% of AAMC-accredited schools of medicine in the United States, as well as at osteopathic schools of medicine and at schools abroad in Antigua, Australia, Canada, The Dominican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Israel, Japan, Lebanon, The Netherlands, Pakistan, Qatar, and South Korea.
At the ceremony, students are welcomed by their deans, the president of the hospital, or other respected leaders who represent the value system of the school and the new profession the students are about to enter. The cloaking with the white coat—the mantle of the medical profession—is a hands-on experience that underscores the bonding process. It is personally placed on each student's shoulders by individuals who believe in the students' ability to carry on the noble tradition of doctoring. It is a personally delivered gift of faith, confidence and compassion.
For schools with White Coat Ceremonies:
White Coat Ceremony Pin Request Form
For schools looking to establish a White Coat Ceremony:
White Coat Ceremony Grant Guidelines and Application
Planning for a White Coat Ceremony