John W. Traubert White Coat Ceremony

WVU's White Coat Ceremony, strategically positioned in the second year of training, is designed to help students reaffirm their reasons for choosing medicine as their lives' work. The ceremony provides a formal way for them to express their commitment to becoming technically excellent and professionally compassionate with patients. It stresses the importance of the doctor-patient relationship and the relevance of the white coat as a "cloak of compassion."

Arthur J. Ross III, MD, MBA, Dean of the School of Medicine, told students at the 2013 Ceremony, "This is an exciting period of transition in your lives. Your fomal classroom days are done. Yes, you'll still be trained and educated by faculty, but your patient's bedside will now become your classroom. Patients, peers and clinicians will be your most valuable teachers from this day forward. You'll be amazed by the people, and the places, that will provide you with your most memorable lessons. This is the next step in your journey that will be thrilling and frustrating, but undoubtedly the most wonderful you will take! As you don your white coat, do so with a sense of responsibility to yourself, your peers and mentors, but especially your patients."

The White Coat Ceremony was created by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation of New York, and the first ceremony was held for the entering class of the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University on August 20, 1993. The original concept was to clarify for new medical students that a physician's responsibility is twofold; to take care of patients and to care for patients. This ceremony has since been established at nearly all the nation's medical schools, with various adaptations.

At WVU, our first ceremony, held on January 26, 1996, deferred from the original concept. It honored students in their second year and marked the "transition" from the basic sciences to clinical sciences, from reading about illness and disease to diagnosing it; from learning about treatments to prescribing them.

With changes in medical education, that "transition" point is becoming less defined. Patient contact coming early on in training, meshing with the obvious importance and relevance of the basic sciences, broadens the concept of WVU's ceremony and more clearly defines its purpose.

In 1999, the ceremony was named to honor Dr. John W. Traubert, who retired as Associate Dean for Student Affairs.

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