Published July 11, 2017
Long white coats represent the trainees’ transition from medical school to residency. Upon entering medical school, students don short coats at a White Coat Ceremony, where they affirm their commitment to medicine. The long coats indicate that they have entered a new phase of training.
The long white coat symbolizes the professionalism that residents must embody while providing care to patients and the public, explains Roseanne C. Berger, MD, senior associate dean for graduate medical education and associate professor of family medicine.
The coat “is not only a symbol of the profession, but it also symbolizes the trust patients place in their physicians,” she says.
After graduation from medical school, medical residents are “matched” with a residency program where they train in a medical or surgical specialty from three to seven years.
The residents who participated in the June 27 ceremony chose to start their careers as physicians in Buffalo. They will provide patient care under supervision of medical school faculty in hospitals and clinics.
This year’s class of residents of 81 women and 109 men includes 120 U.S. citizens and 70 citizens of at least 17 other countries, including 24 from Canada, nine from Pakistan and six from India.
Forty of the new residents are University at Buffalo graduates, 32 of whom graduated from its medical education program and eight of whom graduated from the School of Dental Medicine.
The Resident Long White Coat Ceremony was part of a five-day medical resident orientation, which includes background on the university, the Western New York community, its population and its health care systems.
During orientation, residents visited several UB-affiliated teaching hospitals, interacted with program faculty and, in some cases, worked with UB’s Clinical Competency Center to assess interactions with standardized patients — individuals trained to simulate real patients with specific conditions.
Before arriving on campus, residents completed online tutorials, including modules on addiction, pain medicine and safe prescribing practices.
At the ceremony, medical residents recite the Hippocratic Oath and the UB Resident Code of Conduct.
The ceremony occurs on Education Day, during which residents receive information on topics ranging from health issues in Buffalo’s population and communication and cultural issues to patient privacy, quality improvement and safety. There also is a focus on resident well-being, highlighting institutional support resources and advice from current residents.
The event was planned in collaboration with UB’s Richard Sarkin/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 U.S. that is home to a residency chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society.
The honor society sustains the commitment of health care professionals to provide compassionate, collaborative and scientifically excellent patient care. It recognizes students, residents and faculty who practice patient-centered medicine and who serve as role models, mentors and leaders.