FAU’s Medical Students Received their First Doctor’s White Coats at Time Honored White Coat Ceremony
BOCA RATON, FL (August 24, 2012) – The 64 students who make up the incoming class of 2016 of Florida Atlantic University’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine received their first doctor’s white coats at a ceremony recently to symbolically confirm their commitment to the profession of medicine. During the ceremony, faculty from the College cloaked the students with a white coat—the pre-eminent symbol of physicians for more than 100 years. The ceremony, which is a time honored tradition, took place in the Barry and Florence Friedberg Lifelong Learning Center on the Boca Raton campus. Members of the inaugural class of the medical school were paired with students in the incoming class and will serve as mentors to the newly minted medical students. Each student was pinned with the “Humanism in Medicine” lapel pin by his/her mentor during the ceremony. At the conclusion of the event, the students recited in unison an “oath” they collectively wrote, which will serve as a code of conduct they are committed to following throughout their education and as physicians after medical school.
“The doctor’s white coat is a vivid symbol of the medical profession,” said David J. Bjorkman, M.D., M.S.P.H., dean of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine. “As our new students put on their white coats for the first time, they are putting on the mantle of being a physician.”
The event program included remarks from FAU President Mary Jane Saunders and the keynote address was presented by Bjorkman and was titled “Honor, Healing and Hope: The Hippocratic Oath.” The master of ceremonies for the event was Stuart L. Markowitz, M.D., senior associate dean of FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine.
The Schmidt College of Medicine’s incoming class comes from all walks of life with unique backgrounds that include a national level figure skater, gymnasts, martial artists, a ballerina, a kick boxer, research scientists, musicians, a competitive tennis player and a vascular sonographer—and they all share the drive and passion to become physicians and help patients. Ranging in age from 21 to 49, the medical students represent most of the major colleges and public universities in Florida and make up 60 percent of the incoming class. Other students in the class attended undergraduate institutions around the country, including Columbia, Boston University, Duke, George Washington, UCLA, William & Mary, University of California-Santa Barbara, Brigham Young University, California State University-Los Angeles, St. Josephs, UNC Chapel Hill, University of Michigan, University of Alabama, University of Wisconsin, The Ohio State University and Notre Dame.
Fifty-eight percent of the class is women—higher than the national average of 49 percent. Approximately 13 percent of the class is Hispanic, 11 percent are Asian and 3 percent are African-American. Although 75 percent of the class majored in traditional pre-med subjects, the class is also made up of students who have non-science majors such as Asian studies, philosophy, history and economics. Twelve of the class members have advanced degrees, including one student who is a post-doctoral fellow and holds an M.S. degree and a Ph.D. in pathobiology.
A symbolic event introduced in 1993, the White Coat Ceremony was established after a group of distinguished physicians, medical educators and community leaders formed the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. The Foundation concluded that the beginning of a student’s journey into medicine is the best time to influence standards of professionalism, humanistic values and behavior. More than 100 medical schools in the United States now hold White Coat Ceremonies.
Immediately following the ceremony was a reception in the Live Oak Pavilion, which was underwritten by Dr. Michael T.B. Dennis, M.D., chair of the board of FAU’s Schmidt College of Medicine. The “Humanism in Medicine” lapel pins were provided by The Arnold P. Gold Foundation.
Cassandra Jean Yoder – Cassandra is a young woman who aspired to be a professional tennis player until a serious back injury shattered her dreams of a tennis career. With her tennis career over, she searched to find new meaning in her life. At the age of 16, she traveled to Malawi, Africa and volunteered at an orphanage there. Her month-long stay in Malawi and a visit to a local hospital reignited her interest in the medical field and her strong desire to help others. After several trips to Malawi, Cassandra established a non-profit organization called Taking Back Lives. This organization takes a holistic approach focused on education with projects aimed to equip Malawians with the knowledge and skills they need to be lifted out of poverty. Helping others is what drives Cassandra and she will bring that same passion and caring to her patients as a physician.
Anatoly “Tony” Nikoleav – Tony is one of the oldest members of the incoming class and has an impressive scientific background. He previously worked for a large pharmaceutical company in California. As a scientist, he researched the mechanisms of early neuron development and found some important similarities between these processes and the neuronal destruction that occurs in diseases like Alzheimer’s, providing potential therapeutic entry points for these diseases. Despite his strong research background and his commitment to finding cures for some of the most debilitating diseases, Tony craved more direct contact with patients. To fulfill this desire, he began volunteering in the HIV/AIDS ward of a hospital in California. His desire to become a physician was further strengthened after caring for his ailing father. Combining his great strengths in research with his compassion for patients will enable Tony to heal not only with drugs, but also with his own hands.
Carlie Myers – Carlie was raised by a single African/American mother who worked as a nurse in a neonatal intensive care unit. Inspired by her mother, her interest in medicine and becoming a doctor started at a very young age. Carlie spent numerous hours in the neonatal unit with her mother observing both the fragility and resilience of the human body. Her journey to being accepted into medical school was not an easy one, and several setbacks in her life may have prevented her from getting to this point. The motivating force of her desire to become a physician is to have the ability to provide access to healthcare for all individuals of varying socioeconomic statuses. As a physician, she aspires to dedicate herself to minimizing disparities in healthcare.
Emel Kasgarli – Emel’s journey to become a physician takes a most interesting path beginning in Kashgar, Turkey and Beijing and ending up in America a mere four years ago. Fluent in Uyghur language, Turkish and Chinese, she is perhaps the first female Uyghur to attend medical school in the United States. Emel is an accomplished researcher who was accepted at a very competitive research program at Harvard Medical School and she has already logged in more than 1,500 hours of research in just two years. Her research has focused on genetics and identification of conserved factors that may regulate fibrillin, an important component of elastic fibers in humans. Defects in fibrillins can lead to severe medical conditions like Marfan’s Syndrome and even cancer. As a future physician, she aspires to combine her research skills and scientific methodologies to help improve patient care.
Colin Andrew McNamara – Colin was diagnosed with a heart defect at the age of four, and doctors told his father not to hold on to any hopes that his son would be a hockey player or a fullback. As Colin grew up, he refused to accept any limitations and forged ahead to pursue his interests in sports. He was elated as he received an official green light from his cardiologist that he could go ahead and participate in contact sports. This all-star athlete then when went on to win the Southeast U.S.A. AAA Hockey Championship in high school and also received the prestigious Sam Sirianni award in football as a scholar athlete. But sports weren’t Colin’s only interest. He was inspired by his doctors and the doctors who took care of his sister as she had to undergo two heart transplants. Colin believes that there can be no other career as rewarding as being a physician and he aspires to emulate the physicians who cared for him and his sister.
Michael Keith Krill – From a very young age, Michael knew that a career in medicine would be the path that he would choose. He attended the renowned athletic training program at The Ohio State University receiving his bachelor’s degree in athletic training. While he worked towards obtaining his degree, he managed to log in more than 2,100 hours of clinical experience and hundreds of hours more from various internships and extracurricular activities. As a result of his hard work and perseverance, Michael went on to become a successful medical provider working for many prestigious organizations such as the San Diego Chargers, the U.S. Olympic Diving Trials, Gatorade and the Ohio State Athletic Department and the OHSAA state basketball and baseball tournaments. Michael is now continuing on his career path in medicine and he aspires to become an orthopedic surgeon.
-FAU-About Florida Atlantic University:
Florida Atlantic University, established in 1961, officially opened its doors in 1964 as the fifth public university in Florida. Today, the University, with an annual economic impact of $6.3 billion, serves more than 29,000 undergraduate and graduate students at sites throughout its six-county service region in southeast Florida. FAU’s world-class teaching and research faculty serves students through 10 colleges: the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the College of Business, the College for Design and Social Inquiry, the College of Education, the College of Engineering and Computer Science, the Graduate College, the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing and the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. FAU is ranked as a High Research Activity institution by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University is placing special focus on the rapid development of three signature themes – marine and coastal issues, biotechnology and contemporary societal challenges – which provide opportunities for faculty and students to build upon FAU’s existing strengths in research and scholarship. For more information, visit www.fau.edu.