Members of the Class of 2026 Receive Their First White Coat
On August 5, 2022, the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Class of 2026 donned their white coats for the first time, while faculty, family and friends were able to celebrate the great tradition of the White Coat Ceremony with them in person for the first time since 2019. It was a day of firsts, as new UMSOM Dean Mark T. Gladwin, MD, addressed the Class for his first White Coat Ceremony in his first week on the job as Dean.
The ceremony, established in 1997, celebrates the white coat as a traditional symbol of the medical clinician and scientist—one that represents the knowledge, skill, and integrity of the medical professionals who wear it, along with the highest standards of professional work, whether in the classroom, laboratory, or clinic. The formal presentation of the white coat to UMSOM’s first-year medical students officially recognizes their entry into the profession of medicine and their new status as junior colleagues.
Dean Gladwin delivered a compelling and memorable address, recognizing the transformative experiences that will begin to shape each of the medical students. “This is a calling,” he noted in addressing his audience of students. “You all are humanists confronting generational challenges with integrity, grace, and compassion. We need your youth, vigor, and dedication to learning and self-improvement to tackle these tough challenges.”
“We are so grateful to have the opportunity to get to know the students in the Class of 2026 and we are ready to educate, mentor, guide, support, and serve them throughout their journeys,” said Kerri A. Thom, MD, MS, Professor of Epidemiology & Public Health and Medicine and Associate Dean for Student Affairs, as she acknowledged the 146 members of the class. “Today’s ceremony is a time of celebration in which we will recognize the hard work and accomplishments that have led to this moment.”
This year’s ceremony was especially significant because it was the first White Coat Ceremony over which UMSOM’s newly-appointed Dean Mark T. Gladwin, MD, has presided.
Following remarks from several speakers, including Dean Gladwin and Medical Alumni Association President Walker L. Robinson, MD, ’70, Class of 2026 students were each called to the stage where faculty members were waiting to ceremoniously help them into their white coats for the first time. Before leaving the stage, each student received a stethoscope donated by an alumnus of the Medical Alumni Association.
Among those present was Karol Toledo, MD Candidate, Class of 2026.
“As an immigrant, my journey towards medical school was slow and arduous. It was an exercise of persistent dedication and resilience while adjusting to my new life in the United States.
"I attended community college, finished my degree at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), worked as a medical interpreter, and volunteered at a free clinic in my community. These experiences informed my decision to pursue medicine. I am now a first-year student, full of excitement and anticipation for what is next.”
First-year medical student, Terance Camacho, commented: “Coming from Guam, I was very excited to meet new friends and hear about everyone's journey to medicine.
"At the end of orientation week, the White Coat Ceremony reminded us that our unique perspectives found their common thread in professionalism, caring for our patients, and serving our new community in Baltimore.”
Josiah Hardy, MD candidate, Class of 2026, is the youngest of five siblings, and the only person in his family to enter medical school. “After witnessing my father’s near-fatal struggles with heart disease, I decided to enter the medical field… The White Coat Ceremony represents an immense privilege bestowed on me as I enter the medical profession, but it is also a great responsibility,” he said.
“This ceremony reminds me of my duty to constantly hold myself to the standards of service, equity, justice, scholarship, and professionalism.”
For first-year medical student, Kerrigan Dougherty, the journey to medical school was not only an affirming experience but a liberating personal experience as well. “When I moved to Baltimore in 2016, I connected with the queer community here,” they said.
“My own medical transition as a nonbinary patient inspired me to want to do for others what my care team has done for me.”
This year’s event was sponsored by the Whiting-Turner Contracting Company. The event was also supported by the contributions of medical student families to the Medical Family Annual Fund.
About the University of Maryland School of Medicine
Now in its third century, the University of Maryland School of Medicine was chartered in 1807 as the first public medical school in the United States. It continues today as one of the fastest growing, top-tier biomedical research enterprises in the world — with 46 academic departments, centers, institutes, and programs, and a faculty of more than 3,000 physicians, scientists, and allied health professionals, including members of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, and a distinguished two-time winner of the Albert E. Lasker Award in Medical Research. With an operating budget of more than $1.3 billion, the School of Medicine works closely in partnership with the University of Maryland Medical Center and Medical System to provide research-intensive, academic, and clinically based care for nearly 2 million patients each year. The School of Medicine has nearly $600 million in extramural funding, with most of its academic departments highly ranked among all medical schools in the nation in research funding. As one of the seven professional schools that make up the University of Maryland, Baltimore campus, the School of Medicine has a total population of nearly 9,000 faculty and staff, including 2,500 students, trainees, residents, and fellows. The combined School of Medicine and Medical System (“University of Maryland Medicine”) has an annual budget of over $6 billion and an economic impact of nearly $20 billion on the state and local community. The School of Medicine, which ranks as the 8th highest among public medical schools in research productivity (according to the Association of American Medical Colleges profile) is an innovator in translational medicine, with 606 active patents and 52 start-up companies. In the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking of the Best Medical Schools, published in 2021, the UM School of Medicine is ranked #9 among the 92 public medical schools in the U.S., and in the top 15 percent (#27) of all 192 public and private U.S. medical schools. The School of Medicine works locally, nationally, and globally, with research and treatment facilities in 36 countries around the world. Visit medschool.umaryland.edu
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The University of Maryland School of Medicine (UM SOM) held its annual White Coat Ceremony on November 2 at the Hippodrome Theatre in downtown Baltimore. During this event, first-year UM SOM medical students were presented their first white coats as a welcome into the field of medicine.