White Coat Ceremony Honors Third-year Veterinary Students as they Transition to Clinics

Friday, April 15, 2022

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Students in Purdue Veterinary Medicine’s DVM Class of 2023 participated in a beloved College of Veterinary Medicine tradition when they received white coats symbolizing their new role as junior veterinarians. Now in its 21st year, the annual White Coat Ceremony, held in the Purdue Memorial Union Ballrooms Saturday evening, April 9, honored the third-year veterinary students as they prepared to enter their clinical year – the final year of the DVM program. Numerous donors including many alumni, sponsored the ceremony by making gifts to provide each student with a white coat personalized with embroidery. Donors also had the opportunity to write a note of encouragement placed in the pocket of the student’s coat to acknowledge their success, enhance their sense of accomplishment, and give them the confidence to keep going.

PVM Dean Willie Reed began the ceremony by thanking the many families, friends, and loved ones who attended the special occasion. “It is now time to celebrate the rite of passage for our third-year veterinary students,” Dean Reed said, explaining that the ceremony marks the students’ transition from the classroom into the clinics. “The white coat indicates your acceptance of your great responsibility toward your patients and clients, your commitment to show compassion and empathy, and to make a positive difference in the life of every animal and person with whom you come into contact.”

The dean then turned the program over to Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Kathy Salisbury, who called the members of the Class of 2023 to the stage individually to receive their white coats. Dr. Aaron Johnson, president of the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association, also was present to congratulate the students and provide each class member with an engraved name badge.

The program continued with remarks from Leah Douglas, of the DVM Class of 2022, who shared words of wisdom as a fourth-year veterinary student nearing graduation. The students then heard from the faculty member they chose to address their class, Dr. Andrew Woolcock, associate professor of small animal internal medicine, who offered his insights as a clinician about the students’ journey ahead.

The ceremony also included the presentation of several awards recognizing individual members of the class for special accomplishments. The following award-winners were honored:

  • Samantha Hatter received the Dr. William W. Carlton Award for Aptitude in Veterinary Pathology, which recognizes a third-year student who has shown aptitude in the study of pathology;
  • Megan Bolger received the Indiana Horse Council Foundation Equine Industry Award, which is presented to a student chosen by peers as having provided the greatest exposure of the equine industry to other students;
  • Hannah Smith received the Holly Watts Memorial Award, which honors a student with exceptional interest and proficiency in non-domestic animal medicine; and,
  • Madalyn Trowbridge was recognized for her service as president of the Purdue Chapter of the Student American Veterinary Medical Association (SAVMA)

The college’s White Coat Ceremony dates back more than 20 years, and is rooted in a medical school tradition that began in 1993 at Columbia University’s Medical School.  The event was designed to impress upon students, physicians and the public, the important symbolic role of the white coat in patient-doctor interactions. Today, white coat ceremonies are held in medical and veterinary schools across the country.

This year marked the first time since the pandemic that the event was held in its traditional in-person format with families and loved ones in attendance. Last year the ceremony was conducted as a hybrid event with students attending in person and friends and families watching online. The year previous the White Coat Ceremony had to be conducted entirely online with the students receiving their coats in the mail and then being honored virtually.

After the challenges of the previous two years, an extra level of enthusiasm permeated this year’s event as everyone enjoyed participating in the traditional format. Congratulations to the Purdue DVM Class of 2023 and best wishes as you transition from the classroom to the clinics!

Writer(s): Susan Xioufaridou | pvmnews@purdue.edu

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