By Dirk Hoffman
Published July 12, 2023
New doctors at the University at Buffalo donned their long white coats for the first time during an early morning ceremony June 30 at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences building in downtown Buffalo.
The ninth annual Resident Long White Coat Ceremony — sponsored by the Office of Graduate Medical Education (GME), UB’s Richard T. Sarkin, MD, Medical Emeritus Faculty Chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS) and the Arnold P. Gold Foundation — celebrated the transition from student to doctors for the new residents.
This year’s class of new residents hail from 17 different countries and range in age from 20 to 49.
Forty-eight of the 196 new residents who took part in the ceremony graduated from the Jacobs School’s medical education program. Eleven of the residents graduated from UB’s School of Dental Medicine.
In all, there are 262 incoming trainees who are new to UB residency or fellowship. In addition, there are 22 UB residents entering their fellowship directly from their residency programs and 14 who are returning (transferring/continuing) to training from research or other fields.
Allison Brashear, MD, MBA, UB’s vice president for health sciences and dean of the Jacobs School, provided opening remarks for the ceremony held in the M&T Auditorium on the building’s second floor that was also attended by family and friends of the new residents.
“When you received your short white coat, it was during a formal ceremony,” Brashear told the incoming residents. “Today’s ceremony is going to be a little bit different because you are going to get your long white coat from your colleague. And that is very purposeful because the coat symbolizes your next chapter in medicine, and you are going to do that together.”
Brashear said she would be remiss if she didn’t mention the new residents are entering medicine at an unprecedented time.
“We need you more than ever now — your intellect, your passion and your commitment to improve the health of the community,” she said.
“A white coat ceremony is not about the coat or the public attention, it is really about a physician’s fundamental role in providing some of the most intimate care to individuals and their families,” Brashear added. “They are counting on you to help keep them healthy and also to help take care of them when they are sick.”
“You are now joining the UB family, so you have all of UB here in Buffalo, but you also have the entire world of UB alumni that are here to support you.”
Marcelo Araujo, DDS, PhD, who was appointed dean of UB’s School of Dental Medicine on May 15, also spoke.
“I am a brand new dean here at the school, but I am not new to UB; I went here for my post graduate work and my fellowship,” he said. “I want to celebrate the integration between medical and dental education. It is very important that we work together. Our patients are the same patients.”
“When I came back to UB I knew that I had to work really closely with all of the deans in health sciences and under Dean Brashear’s leadership we are trying to make sure that every single student and every single resident who comes here has the opportunity to embrace the other side of health science,” Araujo added.
“We are unique here in Buffalo in having a long white coat ceremony. I think it is only here where we celebrate the transition from student to physician with a long white coat ceremony,” he said.
Cherr noted UB is one of only 14 medical residency programs in the world that is home to a residency chapter of the GHHS.
He also pointed out some of the traits the white coat symbolizes — being patient-centered and learner-centered, that the best care is evidence-based, scientific, collaborative and humanistic, and the trust in your peers and the trust that you will do the right thing for patients and their families and as learners and teachers.
“Your white coat has the UB symbol on it because you are representing the University at Buffalo and all that stands for.”
Susan M. Orrange, PhD, assistant dean for education and residential services, prompted the residents to coat one another saying: “As residents, peer support is critical to your success. In beginning this journey together, coating each other represents your shared commitment to the noble tradition of doctoring.”
The residents then recited the Buffalo Long White Coat Ceremony Oath, led by Roseanne C. Berger, MD, clinical associate professor of family medicine and a former head of GME; and Peter S. Martin, MD, PhD, clinical assistant professor of psychiatry. Cherr, Berger, Martin and Orrange are advisers for UB’s resident chapter of GHHS.
Berger noted the UB GME Code of Professional Conduct was written in 2007 by residents and program directors and “has been updated to reflect that the practice of medicine involves a diverse culture, more technology than we ever had when we were training, and teamwork.”
“This oath is a distilled version of that code and centers around our values that are aligned into four commitments — to patients and their families, to a culture of respect, compassion and integrity, to faculty, colleagues and staff, and lastly, to ourselves — and that is really an essential commitment that gives us the strength and reserve to fulfill the other commitments.”