The White Coat Ceremony was initiated in 1993 at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S), in collaboration with The Arnold P. Gold Foundation, and has since become a tradition at 99% of AAMC-accredited U.S. medical schools as well as schools in 19 other countries. It is an annual rite of passage for doctors-to-be to pledge a commitment to the compassionate practice of medicine.
The event marks the beginning of each medical student's career. Our ceremony creates a psychological, intellectual, and ethical contract for the profession and promotes empathy in the practice of medicine from the very start of medical training. During the ceremony, students are “cloaked” in their first white coat by one of six specially-selected faculty members, in the presence of family, friends, and colleagues. Together, as a class, students recite the Hippocratic Oath for the first time, emphasizing the primacy of the doctor-patient relationship and the importance of compassion in medicine.