Seth P. Butler, a trainee in the emergency medicine residency program, cannot contain his delight as he dons his long white coat for the first time.

Residents Celebrated in Long White Coat Ceremony

Published June 30, 2021

New doctors donned their long white coats for the first time during an outdoor ceremony June 21 at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in downtown Buffalo.

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The seventh annual Resident Long White Coat Ceremony — sponsored by the Office of Graduate Medical Education (GME) — celebrated a transition for the new residents, as they donned their long white coats to replace the short white coats they received when they entered medical school.

271 Incoming Trainees New to UB Residency or Fellowship

This year’s class of new residents hail from 29 different countries and range in age from 24 to 43.

Fifty-six of the new residents who took part in the ceremony graduated from the Jacobs School’s medical education program. Seven of the residents graduated from UB’s School of Dental Medicine.

In all, there are 271 incoming trainees who are new to UB residency or fellowship.

The trainee class is made up of 154 men and 117 women.

Celebration Represents ‘New Beginning’

The ceremony was conducted along Washington Street, alongside the Jacobs School building. Banners hung from lampposts to welcome residents and fellows on Washington, High and Main streets.  

“The uncertainty about the COVID-19 restrictions and the desire to congregate in person after a year of virtual learning and interviewing, created an imperative to welcome the new class of residents on the threshold of the Jacobs School, symbolizing the education hub of the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC),” says Roseanne C. Berger, MD, senior associate dean for graduate medical education.

“For me, this event symbolized a ‘new beginning’ for the residents and for our community,” she adds.

The ceremony began with an expression of gratitude and acknowledging that UB resides on territory of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, a sovereign nation affirmed by the state of New York. 

“This acknowledgement focused attention on the first inhabitants of this country at a time when we have been learning about the rich history and diversity of our people and the obligation we owe to them as doctors and dentists,” Berger says.

“The pandemic highlighted the disparities in health care that will affect this generation of physicians as clinicians, scientists, educators, colleagues and advocates,” she notes. “The humanistic behaviors and trust that is symbolized by the long white coat must be earned by thoughtful listening and deeds.”

Compassionate Support For One Another

“In residency, the support of peers becomes critical to their education and practice. To emphasize the importance of humanistic and compassionate support of each other, the GME long white coat ceremony involves residents coating each other, and celebrating together,” says Susan M. Orrange, PhD, GME’s assistant dean for education and resident services.

“The residents celebrate with photos and also by acknowledging the commitments they now make as doctors,” she adds. “We have personalized our GME Code of Professional Conduct, and residents recite a series of commitments they make: to a culture of respect, compassion and integrity; to patients and their families; to faculty, colleagues and staff; and to themselves.”

“This emphasizes the specific ways we value and expect professionalism here in Buffalo,” Orrange says.

The event concluded with a recitation of the Hippocratic Oath that is a tradition of the white coat ceremony.

“In the past, we have held the ceremony on the last day of orientation,” Orrange says. “This year, we decided to place it at the very beginning of the week, to serve as the welcome and foundation for all that follows.”

Other speakers included:

  • Michael E. Cain, MD, vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School, who offered advice to the assembled crowd, family, and friends in front of the school and on the BNMC he was instrumental in building
  • Gregory S. Cherr, MD, associate dean for graduate medical education and Designated Institutional Official (DIO), who spoke about the Gold Humanism Honor Society and the UB Resident Code of Conduct
  • Joseph E. Gambacorta, DDS, associate dean for clinical affairs in UB’s School of Dental Medicine, who spoke of the interprofessional teams required to deliver effective care to address health care disparities

Gold Humanism Honor Society Provides Support

The event was planned in collaboration with UB’s Richard Sarkin Medical 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 country that is home to a residency chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society.