MD Class of 2022 Welcomed at White Coat Ceremony
When Pranav Kaul, a second-year medical student at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS), followed his preceptor into the trauma bay at Children’s National Health System for the first time he, was shocked by how effortless it was.
“No one stopped me at the door,” he said to members of the Class of 2022 gathered at the MD White Coat and Honor Code Ceremony on Aug. 11. “There I was, a curious and eager medical student who knew nothing about the human body, and yet I was sitting in the trauma bay watching a team stabilize a young car crash victim.”
When Kaul saw the victim’s mother sobbing as the team helped her child, he hesitated, not knowing what to do in the situation. Should he comfort her? Should he get her some water? Should he say or do anything?
Luckily, at that moment a third-year student came over to comfort the woman and whisper words of support to her. That’s when Kaul learned a tough lesson: Displaying compassion professionally is learned, not innate.
“Having a white coat is challenging at times,” he said. “In those moments, it is essential to remember that you are still a human capable of compassion, empathy, and love.”
The students gathered in Lisner Auditorium with their families and friends, ready to cross the stage in their new white coats, which symbolized the beginning of a four-year journey toward the career most had dreamed about since they were children.
Keynote speaker, Babak Sarani, MD ’97, professor of surgery at SMHS, shared Kaul’s sentiments on the importance and the challenges of donning the white coat.
“As a doctor you can impact change at a national or international level through research, academic integrity, and through your own expertise,” he said. “Soon, you will be some of the few people in the world whose job it will be to save lives and alleviate suffering.”
The White Coat and Honor Code Ceremony serves as a reminder to students of medicine’s primary goal: to serve patients. Many of the remarks during the event emphasized the importance compassion and humanism in the field of medicine.
“It’s a good feeling being able to look into the future with something as simple as a white coat,” said Cory DeFreitas, a member of the Class of 2022 who also attended the Legacy Brunch earlier that day. “Seeing my dad [wearing a white coat] when I visited him at work … it meant that he was helping people. You’re putting other people ahead of yourself and looking to serve others in a way that they can’t do for themselves.”
The newest members of George Washington’s medical team donned their white coats, with the university’s namesake stitched on the chest, for the first time in front of their loved ones ready to aspire to greatness together.
“As they say in the hit show ‘Hamilton,’ ” said Jeffrey S. Akman, MD ’81, RESD ’85, vice president for health affairs, Walter A. Bloedorn Professor of Administrative Medicine, and dean of SMHS. “It must be nice to have Washington on your side.”
To view the full ceremony, visit www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9Xjqj8k_gM&feature=youtu.be (link is external).