A rite of passage. The symbol of a profession.

Washington University School of Medicine
welcomes the entering class of 2020.

White Coat Ceremony 2020

October 30, 2020 | 3 – 4 p.m. CST

View event program »

The circumstances around COVID19 continue to evolve, and events this year are very different from traditionally planned. Our hope is to still provide meaningful programming while adhering to the health and safety guidelines laid forth by our community experts.

Welcome, Entering Class of 2020!

105 students
63 women | 42 men

Icon: World globe with mortarboard hat

from 9 countries and
27 U.S. states

21 enrolled in the
MD/PhD program

Student Oath

Written by the entering class of 2020

  • We, the entering class of 2020 at Washington University School of Medicine, begin our medical journey amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This crisis has disproportionately affected marginalized communities, with greater impact on Black people, Indigenous people, and People of Color, amplifying the profound effects of structural inequities. Additionally, this year has been marked by an uprising against racial injustice, reinvigorated by the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, among many others. In light of these events, we recognize the historical and ongoing role of our profession in perpetuating and legitimizing racialized and gendered structural violence. Our profession must play a role in upholding scientific truth in the service of public health and justice. We commit to holding the following principles for continued introspection and development throughout our careers.
  • To my patients I pledge,
    above all else, to make your health and wellness my priority. I humbly commit to earning your trust by listening to your values, empathizing with your lived experience, and honoring your privacy. I will see you as a person beyond your diagnosis. Your comfort and safety will be paramount, and I vow to respect your autonomy and empower your self-determination. I will be grateful for the lessons you teach me and ask for your forgiveness when I err. In this way, I hope to forge an equal partnership with you.
  • To my profession I pledge,
    as a lifelong student of the art and science of medicine, to pursue ethical scholarship with the end goal of improving patient care. My practice will be grounded in integrity, empathy, and inclusivity, extending beyond the clinical environment. I commit to being an uplifting presence on the healthcare team by supporting and collaborating with my interprofessional colleagues. As others have mentored me, I promise to teach and mentor the next generation of physicians. I will strive to be a positive force within my profession, hold my colleagues to account, maintain resolve in the face of societal and political pressures, and promote the diversity of future physicians in order to better represent the communities we serve. By doing so, I hope to leave the profession better than it was when I began.
  • To society I pledge,
    with humility, to derive my mission and purpose from community needs. In acknowledgement of the historical traumas perpetuated by the institution of medicine, I will strive to restore community trust through a trauma-informed framework. Using my medical knowledge, I aim to promote health literacy, combat misinformation, and empower community members in pursuit of a healthier and more equitable society. I promise to do my best to recognize and mitigate my biases. I will recognize the impact of social determinants of health and strive to be an ally to disenfranchised peoples within both healthcare and society. I will champion accessible, equitable, and sustainable care for all.
  • To myself I pledge,
    in deference to my humanity, to recognize my limitations and consciously pursue my own wellness so that I can best care for others. I promise to continually engage in self-reflection and cultivate my own growth and passion for medicine. I will confront challenges that may seem insurmountable and not hesitate to ask for help. Likewise, when others need support, I will offer my hand. I will embrace my unique professional path and welcome the responsibilities, joy, and fulfillment this journey brings.
  • As I begin the study of medicine, cultivating these virtues in my practice and in my life, I take this oath freely and upon my honor.
First-year medical students gather for a socially distanced class portrait after taking part in the White Coat Reflection on Sept. 11, 2020.

New Curriculum

This fall, Washington University debuts a new medical curriculum — the Gateway Curriculum. It will ensure that our students are not only exceptional physicians, but are prepared to lead the transformational changes needed to improve the future of our field.

Gateway Orientation

Incoming students launch their medical journey during orientation, when students get to know each other, their new school, and their community in St. Louis. The week culminates with the White Coat Reflection. Orientation is organized by the Office of Medical Student Affairs.

‘A journey of a lifetime’

Students embark on medical journeys during pandemic, new curriculum rollout
Read the story »

White Coat Reflection

Friday, Sept. 11

Donning the white coat for the first time is a momentous and meaningful occasion for incoming medical students. While our current circumstances prevent a traditional ceremony, we wanted to provide a space for students to reflect on the meaning of this rite of passage. Together with their new Gateway Coach and coaching cohort, students shared and discussed what it means to be a doctor in these times, and how their medical education journey looks to them. The session concluded with the Gateway Coaches coating their learners with the White Coat.

With this reflection, the journey has just begun. We will be delivering a grander production around the White Coat virtually in October, after the class constructs its Oath.

What is a White Coat Ceremony?  
About the tradition »