New residents white coat ceremony.

After receiving their white coats, UB medical residents pose for an aerial photo outside the Center for Tomorrow on North Campus. Photo: Douglas Levere

GME Holds First Long White Coat Ceremony for Residents

Published June 25, 2015

“This coat symbolizes the wearer’s responsibility to be trustworthy, caring and committed to professionalism.”
Roseanne Berger, senior associate dean for graduate medical education
Roseanne Berger.

Texas, California, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Florida, Oklahoma, Iowa.

License plates in the packed Center for Tomorrow parking lot Tuesday revealed where UB’s 200 new medical residents had come from. The newly minted physicians were inside the building, learning more about what they would be doing as medical residents serving the hospitals and clinics of Western New York.

At the event sponsored by the Office of Graduate Medical Education (OGME) of the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, UB faculty and resident speakers discussed everything from patient safety and privacy to educational resources at UB, cultural communication and how to minimize stress.

Donning the Long White Coat

The event was capped by UB’s first white coat ceremony for medical residents, who donned long white coats to celebrate the start of a new phase of their training: their residency.

Students entering the UB School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences receive short white coats from senior faculty at a ceremony in early August, which serves as a bonding experience with the profession.

“The long white coat represents another rite of passage where graduates have earned the right to wear the garb that labels them as physicians,” said Roseanne C. Berger, MD, senior associate dean for graduate medical education. “This coat symbolizes the wearer’s responsibility to be trustworthy, caring and committed to professionalism. Today’s ceremony underscores the ethical foundation of the medical profession and doctors’ obligation to patients.”

At the event, residents coated one another.

“This is a practice unique to the UB resident white coat ceremony and it symbolizes the tremendous support that medical residents will provide to each other throughout the residency experience,” said Susan Orrange, director of education and resident support services in OGME.

In addition to receiving their long white coats, medical residents recited the Hippocratic Oath and the UB Resident Code of Conduct.

Stephen Chiang, MD, general surgery resident.

Stephen Chiang, MD, general surgery resident, dons his white coat. Photo: Douglas Levere

The long white coat ceremony 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. 

In 2012, UB was chosen as a pilot site for a resident chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society, one of just 10 medical schools in the nation to be so honored.

Choosing — and Serving — Buffalo

In the last year of medical school, students across the country are “matched” with a residency program where they train in a medical or surgical specialty from three to seven years.

In Buffalo, medical residents provide patient care under supervision of UB faculty in hospitals and clinics.

“The 200 medical residents at today’s ceremony chose UB and Buffalo as the institution and city that offered them an opportunity where they could grow and contribute as clinicians,” Berger explained.

That opportunity was appealing to the residents who came not only from nearly all 50 states but also from 30 countries and range in age from 24 to 47. About a quarter say they are New York state residents.