Inaugural MIDP Class Honored at VUSM Convocation and White Coat Ceremony

Krystyna Barnard
August 5, 2016

DSC_6308.jpgThe inaugural Medical Innovators Development Program (MIDP) class was recently honored at the annual Vanderbilt University School of Medicine (VUSM) Convocation and White Coat Ceremony.

MIDP students Ariel Kniss-James, Ph.D., Jessica Wen, Ph.D., and Sai Rajagopalan, Ph.D., were among the 89 students present for the event, which traditionally marks the official start of medical school for incoming students.

“The White Coat Ceremony offered an opportunity to reflect on what we have accomplished, while looking forward to the next step of our journey here at VUSM,” said Kniss-James. “This meaningful event made the start of medical school even more significant by bringing together loved ones, mentors and the Vanderbilt community to create an environment of support and excitement, while discussing the responsibilities and expectations of joining the medical profession.”

At the start of the ceremony, Bonnie Miller, M.D., Senior Associate Dean for Health Sciences Education and Executive Vice-President for Educational Affairs at VUMC, welcomed attendees, discussed the history and significance of the white coat ceremony, and emphasized the privilege that must be earned for those who wear the white coat.

“So when you don your white coats for the first time, I hope they feel just a little bit heavy,” said Miller. “…Not with the stethoscopes and reflex hammers and index cards, but with your promises of the challenge and responsibility of what lies ahead. White coats should not feel airy and light…They will not instantly transform you. You will in fact be transformed over the coming years, but that will result in your own hard work.”

Co-chairs of the VUSM admissions committee, David Bader, Ph.D., and Alice Coogan, M.D., announced each student’s name while Drs. Andre Churchwell, Amy Fleming and Kim Lomis presented them with their coats.

“Wearing my white coat for the first time really signified the responsibility to our communities and society that we will hold as future physician scientists,” said Wen. “It was both an exhilarating and humbling experience that will stay with me beyond the next four years of medical school.”

At the conclusion of the ceremony, the students, along with college mentors, recited the VUSM Oath, committing to the obligations and responsibilities of VUSM students and teachers.

“I will always strive to uphold the responsibilities and values that rest on my shoulders as a physician in training,” added Rajagopalan. “I am thankful to VUSM and the MIDP program for giving me this wonderful opportunity.”

Full coverage of the 2016 White Coat Ceremony may be viewed here