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White Coat Ceremony

The involvement of The Arnold P. Gold Foundation in what we now call the White Coat Ceremony actually began at commencement exercises at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, where Dr. Arnold Gold has been a teacher and pediatric neurologist for more than forty years.

As he witnessed Columbia's graduation ceremony each year, Dr. Gold became aware that the recitation of the Hippocratic Oath, when students accept the obligations of our profession, comes four years too late. It is during medical school that students experience their initial contact with patients and establish their professional orientation. The Foundation believes that medical students should be given well-defined guidelines regarding the expectations and responsibilities appropriate for the medical profession early in their education and training. This is what inspired the Foundation to begin advocacy and sponsorship of what has become the White Coat Ceremony.

The White Coat Ceremony is a rite of passage for beginning medical students to help establish a psychological contract for professionalism and empathy in the practice of medicine. The event includes several elements: students are cloaked in their first white coats; recite the Hippocratic Oath (or other similar oath) in the presence of family, friends and faculty members early in their first year of medical school; hear an inspiring address by a distinguished guest keynote speaker; and celebrate at a reception with their loved ones.

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation White Coat Ceremony was initiated on August 20, 1993 at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, New York. Grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in 1996 and 1997 made advocacy for these events possible. The Gold Foundation currently supports the ceremony at more than 100 schools of osteopathy and medicine throughout the U.S. as well as at all 4 medical schools in Israel. In addition, another 20 or so schools have developed an alternative event similar to or based on The Gold Foundation's ceremony. The University of Maryland School of Medicine has held White Coat Ceremonies since 1997.

For more information about recent UMSOM White Coat Ceremonies, visit

Copyright © 2001-2004 Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center. Reproduced from the P&S Student Handbook, 2002-2003, VI. THE CURRICULUM with permission.

Adapted from the Gold Foundation. Used with permission.

White Coat Ceremony Faculty Speakers

2023 Class of 2027 Dr. Marissa Flaherty
2022 Class of 2026  Dr. Sarah Schmalzle
2021 Class of 2025 Dr. Rebecca Krey
2020 Class of 2024 Dr. George Willis
2019 Class of 2023 Dr. Kimberly Lumpkins
2018 Class of 2022 Dr. Sandra M. Quezada
2017 Class of 2021 Dr. Devang M. Patel
2016 Class of 2020 Dr. Nirav Shah
2015 Class of 2019 Dr. Mickey Foxwell
2014 Class of 2018 Dr. Kathryn Hart
2013 Class of 2017 Dr. Neda Frayha
2012 Class of 2016 Dr. Joseph Martinez
2009 Class of 2013 Dr. Robert Rogers
2008 Class of 2012 Dr. Gina Perez
2007 Class of 2011 Dr. Richard Colgan
2006 Class of 2010 Dr. Albert Reece
2005 Class of 2009 Dr. Thomas LangDr. Gary Plotnick
2004 Class of 2008 Dr. Donald Van Wie Dr. Meredith Bond
2003 Class of 2007 Dr. Carol Tacket Dr. Toby Chai
2002 Class of 2006 Dr. James McNamee Dr. Gary Plotnick Dr. Robert Redfield Dr. Ligia Peralta
2001 Class of 2005 Dr. Jordan Warnick Dr. Jay Perman
2000 Class of 2004 Dr. Larry Anderson Dr. Nancy Lowitt Dr. Andrew Malinow
1999 Class of 2003 Dr. Gary Plotnick Dr. Miriam Blitzer Dr. Shawn Robinson Dr. Richard Taylor
1998 Class of 2002 Dr. Marshall Rennels Dr. Eve Higginbotham Dr. Selvin Passen
1997 Class of 2001 Dr. Susan Wolfsthal