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History of the White Coat Ceremony

The tradition of coating at The UT Health Science Center College of Medicine began with the entering class of 1996 and was one of the first established in U.S. Medical Schools. This solemn ceremony is the culmination of the orientation to medical school. It consists of a processional of the new class led by the presidents of the junior and senior medical classes followed by faculty and the Executive Dean's party. Following introductions and welcome to family and friends, a distinguished visitor gives the charge to the entering class. The remarks generally focus on professionalism in medicine. The coating ceremony itself includes the Executive Dean of the College and his party. The ceremony is followed by a light reception for family, College of Medicine faculty, administrators and staff.

It has been said that the white coat is a symbolic nonverbal communication used to express and/or affirm a fundamental belief in a system that society observes. The authority of dress is serious and purposeful not social, casual or random. It is a guide to patient and doctor on how to react and to relate to one another. Interestingly enough, Hippocrates advised his young neophytes on how they should dress. In primitive societies the healer’s dress was an important part of the paraphernalia of their healing. This uniform should convey to even the most anxious a sense of seriousness and purpose that helps provide reassurance and confidence that his or her complaints will be dealt with competently and seriously. The white coat provides the milieu for you to become a physician; some would say that it is a cloak of compassion.

The annual White Coat Ceremony and reception are made possible by the Bland W. Cannon, M.D., Endowment. The Cannon Endowment was established and funded by family, friends and colleagues of Dr. Cannon and recognizes the qualities Dr. Cannon exemplified as a physician. The income from the Endowment is also used to award scholarships to medical students who demonstrate compassion, empathy, respect and humanism towards patients, as well as, a high level of scholarship. In addition, the Endowment may provide teaching awards to faculty members who possess and teach those traits which Dr. Cannon believed necessary to become a dedicated and accomplished physician.

May 26, 2022