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MD Program Class of 2025 Celebrates White Coat Ceremony

August 11, 2021

By Lisa Ryan

The MD program class of 2025 gathered at The Met in Philadelphia on Friday, August 6, to officially begin their medical school journey with the White Coat Ceremony, a symbolic commitment to the values and duties of the medical profession. View photos.

In the nationally recognized ceremony, incoming medical students don their white coats, a symbol of clinical care and compassionate service and recite the Physician's Pledge, the contemporary successor to the 2,500-year-old Hippocratic Oath.

By reciting its words in front of their academic community as well as family and friends, physicians affirm their commitment to providing high-quality, compassionate medical care to all people. The tradition helps medical students understand their responsibilities even before their coursework has begun.

This year’s celebration brought together the MD program's approximately 300 incoming students, including the inaugural class from Drexel University College of Medicine at Tower Health, the new four-year regional medical campus that celebrated its grand opening in West Reading, Pa., in July.

MD Program Class of 2025 Celebrates White Coat Ceremony

Members of the class of 2025 were chosen from among over 16,680 applicants, a number that reflects a national increase in medical school applications for 2021, according to Walter H. and Leonore Annenberg Dean and Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs Charles B. Cairns, MD.

“It is not lost on anyone that this increase in medical school applications was driven in part by the COVID-19 pandemic, and the desire to do the challenging and heroic work of healing the sick,” Cairns said. “We are in awe of this noble drive and determination, and proud to be part of your journey."

The class of 2025 took the first step of that journey at The Met with a small number of faculty and loved ones, while others joined in online. The event was broadcast live to allow students' families and friends to watch and share messages of support throughout the ceremony.

“We are thrilled we can come together in person to celebrate this special rite of passage,” said Donna Russo, PhD, during the ceremony. “I think that we have all come to realize that socialization and celebration of events with our family and friends are simple human pleasures we took for granted prior to COVID-19 – now we value those things much more highly. Likewise, please remember never to take for granted your white coat, and all that it symbolizes.”

Russo, who serves the College of Medicine as interim vice dean for educational affairs, senior associate vice dean for curriculum, William Maul Measey Chair in medical education, and as a professor, encouraged incoming students to embrace the College’s diverse history and values of equity and inclusion.

MD Program Class of 2025 Celebrates White Coat Ceremony

“The power of our presence in Philadelphia and in West Reading lies in you, our students. We hope that you will embrace our legacy of opportunity and service, and extend it, wherever possible, to others,” Russo said, before welcoming the new students to the College of Medicine community.

Faculty, staff, current students and alumni also welcomed the class of 2025 to the College's community, sharing supportive and welcoming messages online ahead of the White Coat Ceremony, a practice that arose to create a feeling of togetherness during fully virtual events amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Performing at the ceremony to help welcome the class of 2025 were Symphony in C, a five-piece ensemble, as well as the College’s a cappella group, Doctor’s Note.

Leon McCrea II, MD, MPH, senior associate dean for diversity, equity and inclusion, associate professor in the Department of Family, Community & Preventive Medicine and the director of the Family Medicine Residency program, gave the event’s keynote speech.

“The white coat is a representation of our social and societal contract with our communities, to be healers. In my mind there is no greater calling than one that requires you to be in service to others, especially when they are most vulnerable,” McCrea said. “There are days when I still pinch myself and reflect on how amazing it is to be able to wear this white coat.”

McCrea encouraged the College’s newest students to internalize values like humanism, intentionality, trust, empathy and compassion during their time in school. He spoke to them about the importance of embracing collaborative learning, innovative problem-solving and cultural and professional humility.

“Value the narrative experiences of your patients, your colleagues and your educators; you have been blessed with the opportunity to get to know so much about people and their needs, the community and humankind,” McCrea told students. “And with that I say, congratulations to the College of Medicine class of 2025, and welcome to our noble clan.”