2023 White Coat Ceremony

Incoming medical students in the WashU Medicine Entering Class of 2023 received their white coats on Friday, October 27, 2023, in a ceremony on the Medical Campus.

Jump to: Class Oath | Photo Gallery | Gateway Orientation

Photos by Matt Miller/Washington University School of Medicine

The ceremony marks a symbolic rite of passage.
Medical students received their first white coats, signifying their entry into the medical profession.

“Starting from the very first patient you meet while wearing this coat, you will touch the lives of dozens, hundreds, thousands of others. You will pledge today to act with compassion, to honor what life means to another person, and to work toward making this world a better place for all.

“While you wear these coats, you will hold someone’s hand as they take their first breath and perhaps someone’s as they take their last breath. This white coat is the manifestation of a promise, both to yourself and to your patients, that you will always keep trying, keep learning and keep growing.”

Keynote speaker Jennifer Yu, MD
Assistant Professor of Surgery and WashU Med Alum

In the oath written by the class,
students promised to practice with humility and compassion, empower the unheard and underserved, find joy in healing, and uplift the health, happiness and humanity of those they serve.

Class Oath

Written by the Entering Class of 2023

As we begin the study of medicine at Washington University,

we acknowledge and embrace the responsibilities and privileges given to us today as physicians in training. I take on this white coat as a symbol of my commitment to the following:

To my patients, I pledge:

I will care for your holistic well-being beyond any diagnosis;
I will strive to build trust by respecting your autonomy, privacy, identity, and experiences;
I will partner with you and your loved ones to make choices that honor your unique values, cultures, and perspectives;
I will serve you with humility, compassion, and appreciation for the lessons you will teach me.

To society, I pledge:

I will advocate for healthcare as a human right — with accessible, equitable, and sustainable care for all;
I will promote public health and health literacy by thoughtfully communicating accurate information and combating misinformation;
I will empower the unheard and the underserved voices of communities in St. Louis and beyond;
I will oppose systems of injustice, recognizing the continued impact of historical traumas, especially those perpetuated by the institution of medicine.

To medicine, I pledge:

I will devote myself to a lifetime of learning, teaching, and mentoring;
I will advance the art and science of medicine with integrity, accountability, and a willingness to question existing dogma;
I will integrate the unique expertise of all members of the healthcare team and embrace our vital interdependence;
I will act with empathy and compassion to my colleagues and improve the culture of medicine.

To my classmates, I pledge:

I will create an inclusive space for honest inquiry, personal growth, and vulnerability;
I will cultivate a spirit of camaraderie and mutual support;
I will offer you the grace to make mistakes and to learn from them;
I will challenge you, as you will me, to strive for the high professional standards we set for ourselves.

To myself, I pledge:

I will embrace discomfort in new experiences and accept the complexity of medicine;
I will engage in continuous reflection and pursue passions in all aspects of my life;
I will acknowledge my limitations, act within my capabilities, and ask for help without hesitation;
I will treat myself with the same grace I show my patients and colleagues, valuing my own wellness.

As I take this oath, I celebrate this journey with gratitude to those who support and inspire me.

May these pledges serve as the foundation of my continuous growth in medicine. May I find joy and hope in healing. May I uplift the health, happiness, and humanity of those I serve.

WashU Med is thrilled to welcome
the Entering Class of 2023!


62 WOMEN | 62 MEN

102 MD | 22 MD/PHD


31% under-
represented in medicine

25% from
socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds

85% have
merit and/or need-based scholarships

First-year medical student Nicholas Speller’s path to receiving his white coat began in childhood and was ignited by his mother’s guidance. Video by Huy Mach.

Photos by Matt Miller/Washington University School of Medicine

The journey begins.

Incoming students launched their medical journeys at the Gateway Orientation in early September. A week of activities introduced students to each other, their new school, and their community in St. Louis.

In addition to getting to know the campus and curriculum, incoming students visited the St. Louis Aquarium and the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Photos by Matt Miller/Washington University School of Medicine

What is a White Coat Ceremony?  
About the tradition »