Date September 25, 2023
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White coat ceremony offers warm welcome to new Brown medical students

Members of the Warren Alpert Medical School’s Class of 2027 donned white coats and celebrated a traditional rite of passage for Brown’s physicians-in-training.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — At a milestone event held on the last Saturday of September, leaders from Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School celebrated the 144 members of the school’s Class of 2027, who began their studies in August.

The school’s Ceremony of Commitment to Medicine — known less formally as the annual white coat ceremony — offers an opportunity to honor the dedication that brought Brown’s newest medical students to Providence and to welcome them to the profession. As part of a time-honored tradition, students are “coated” by the dean, with the physician’s lab coats donated by the Brown Medical Alumni Association.

The ceremony, which welcomes students and their guests in-person and is viewable from anywhere via live-stream, is a chance to express gratitude to family members, friends and others who support medical students, and to acknowledge the path that lies ahead for the physicians-in-training.

Blaire Byg, a member of the medical school’s Class of 2024, served as student speaker for the 25th annual ceremony. In a heartfelt address about community and togetherness, she talked about starting medical school in Fall 2020 — a period in which she initially felt sad and isolated following the recent death of her mother and the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic and its limitations on in-person activity. Even the white coat ceremony itself for Byg’s class was postponed by a year and a half.

Reflecting on her personal evolution over the past several years and how that related to her training and work as a physician, Byg shared how she learned to find solace and comfort in the stories and experiences of patients, friends and community members.

“For me, the metaphorical pockets of the white coat are the pockets in which I store and will continue to store the hopes and the hurts, the questions and the stories of all the people I’ve met along this journey,” Byg said.

Uncooperative weather moved the celebration, usually held under a tent outdoors, inside to Brown’s Olney-Margolies Athletic Center. Yet the crowd shared the optimism and joy of Dr. Mukesh Jain, dean of medicine and biological sciences at Brown.

“We’re not going to let the weather dampen our spirits on this most auspicious of moments,” Jain said.

Jain spoke to the new medical students’ feelings of exhilaration as well as anxiety and reminded them about resources for education, emotional and personal support. And he congratulated them on their achievement in making it to the commendable milestone of starting medical school.

“If you were accepted into this medical school, I can assure you — you are prepared for anything that you will face,” Jain said. “This is the best medical school class ever.”