From Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine:

Class of 2026 Students Receive Their White Coats

Ceremony marks the formal start of medical school training

September 13, 2022

In a traditional rite of passage that marks the beginning of each medical student’s road to becoming a physician, all 49 members of the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine’s Class of 2026 received their white coats in a September 9 ceremony at the Pasadena Convention Center.

It was the third White Coat Ceremony to be held since KPSOM first opened in 2020, and the first such event – due to COVID-19 protocols in recent years – held in person with students’ families and friends, school leaders, faculty, and staff in attendance. Students were greeted by several deans and school leaders who represent the medical school and the medical profession and, as per tradition, a short white coat was placed on each student’s shoulders and an oath was read to signify the students’ entrance into medical training. After opening remarks by Anne Eacker, MD, Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs, the students were addressed by Founding Dean and CEO Mark Schuster, MD, PhD.

Anne Eacker, KPSOM Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs, welcomes White Coat Ceremony attendees.

“I know that many of you were propelled to this field by experiences, positive and negative, with doctors,” Dean Schuster told the students. “You already understand the power that a doctor’s words and actions can have on patients.” He explained that the words and actions of the future doctors would reverberate beyond the exam room and said, “patients will remember what you said and how you treated them.”

Dean Schuster reminded students of the importance of donning the white coat and shared that the many sacrifices students and their families made to arrive at this pivotal moment were of great importance. He remarked that some students might experience imposter syndrome after receiving their white coat soon after the start of medical school, but emphasized that each student must earn the honor of wearing the white coat. In addition, Dean Schuster explained that each student was carefully selected to attend KPSOM due to the admissions team’s strong belief in their ability to make excellent physicians and he encouraged the students to remain open to new perspectives and passions and to be committed to every patient.

Mark Schuster, KPSOM Founding Dean and CEO, shares remarks during White Coat Ceremony.

Kimberly Freeman, MBA, MPP, EdD, KPSOM Assistant Dean for Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity, presented students with the class of 2026 pin on behalf of Greg Adams, Chairman and CEO of Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals. Then Maureen Connelly, MD, MPH, KPSOM Senior Associate Dean for Academic and Community Affairs, introduced faculty members, clerkship directors, and site directors, who presented students with their white coats. Dr. Connelly explained the importance of the school’s Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship program, which “is a chance for our students to have direct interaction with patients.”

Jonathan Finkelstein, MD, MPH, KPSOM Senior Associate Dean for Research and Scholarship, introduced the physician oath, which was read aloud by several KPSOM leaders. Afterward, Abbas Hyderi, MD, MPH, KPSOM Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education, introduced the Community Agreement, which was read aloud by several KPSOM Class of 2026 students. 

The event ceremony closed with words from Jose Barral, MD, PhD, KPSOM Chair of Biomedical Science, who shared a montage of images capturing moments from the Class of 2026’s time on campus interacting with each other, faculty, and staff, as well as messages of gratitude from the students. Finally, Lindia Willies-Jacobo, MD, KPSOM Senior Associate Dean for Admissions and Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity shared closing remarks and thanked guests for their attendance.

“It has been such a pleasure to see you arrive at this moment,” said Dr. Willies-Jacobo. “My admissions team and I had the privilege of getting to know you when we received your applications so many months ago. One of the most gratifying aspects of my role is that I have the opportunity to meet you on interview day and I get to now see you all in your white coats. We’re all so very proud to have you at the school and certainly our namesake, Bernard J. Tyson, would be thrilled to see this third class.”

The white coat ceremony is a traditional event at most U.S. medical schools. It was created by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation in 1993. The special event allows these future doctors an opportunity to reflect on their fundamental responsibility to heal, protect, and care for their patients.