In This Section

Welcoming Temple's Next Generation of Physicians: White Coat Ceremony MD Class of 2027

News August 28, 2023

MD Class of 2027 Students standing in the auditorium and reading a statementPride and excitement from family, friends and alums radiated through the Temple Performing Arts Center (TPAC) on August 4, as the Lewis Katz School of Medicine MD White Coat Ceremony commenced for the class of 2027.

Seeing the 200+ first-year medical students take their seats with smiles; it was apparent this occasion was a meaningful moment in beginning their medical training. Students gazing toward the front stage appeared moved by the stimulating words said by several Katz professionals.


Inspirational Words

Dr. Goldberg, Dr. Stewart, and two other faculty members

Dean Amy Goldberg, MD, FACS, kicked off the ceremony with an enthusiastic welcome to the students.

"That's what the White Coat Ceremony is all about, your official welcome to a profession truly unparalleled among the world's career paths,"

said Goldberg, who recently celebrated 30 years as the George S. Peters, MD, and Louise C. Peters Chair of Surgery and Temple University Health System's Surgeon-in-Chief. "We are incredibly proud of you and excited for you because you are embarking on a great voyage, a life-changing voyage called medicine," said Goldberg. "Take it all in. Open your mind and your hearts to the experience." 

Dr. Goldberg also noted the impact the students will have and advice for the next four years. "There are no limits to learning," "What you see and are a part of will certainly change you. I know this firsthand."


A History-Making Alumnus

As her welcome ended, Dr. Goldberg said,

"Being a doctor is what you have chosen to do; being a caring, feeling, humane person is who you choose to be."

This reign true with the ceremony's keynote speaker, Altha J. Stewart, MD

Since graduating in 1978, Stewart has completed several achievements, including in 2017, becoming the first African American elected president of the American Psychiatric Association in the organization's 175-year history. Another notable position she serves is the Director of the Center for Youth Advocacy and Well-Being, an organization recognized statewide as a leader in work to reduce the number of out-of-home and community placements for youth with untreated mental illness and trauma-related issues.

A pioneer in the mental health community, Stewart's decorated career has also included several distinguished roles, including President of the American Association for Community Psychiatry, Senior Associate Dean for Community Health Engagement and Associate Professor of Psychiatry in the College of Medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, and the Health Science Center's Director of Public and Community Psychiatry. Many additional titles and awards have proven her dedication and advocacy for the well-being of others, including becoming the Lewis Katz School of Medicine 2023 Henry P. and M. Page Laughlin Alumna of the Year.

As Stewart began her speech, she mentioned how as the students complete the next four years, she will celebrate 50 years as an alum noting, "There is a future out there for you. "She also had encouraging words saying with pride. I am Temple Made, "later noting, "You will also be Temple Made."

In her speech, Dr. Stewart discussed remembering your "why. "She spoke of a parable when remembering her "why" — The predictors of the inevitable, and the pursuers of the possible, a message of seeing the glass half empty (the predictors) and seeing the glass half full (the pursuers). She then encouraged students to be pursuers themselves, change makers, problem solvers and "never giving up hope" even in challenging times. Stewart noted, "Better to test your strength and be wrong than to proclaim your weakness and be right."

Stewart encouraged the incoming class to do their best in this new endeavor

"Remember that you must be a pursuer... look back on what you have learned here at Temple and remember the values of those who are teaching you and leading your education."

As Dr. Stewart closed out the speech, she noted when glancing at the students' oath how "these words are what will assure that you are a pursuer of the possible."


Three Decades of Celebration

White-coated medical students are waving enthusiastically on the podium

A tradition over 30 years in the making, the White Coat Ceremony is seen as a rite of passage celebrated nationally and internationally by medical colleges. Its inception started in 1989 at the University of Chicago medical school by the Dean of Students Norma F. Wagoner as an answer to develop a professional standard as first-year medical students begin their studies. In 1993 the Arnold P. Gold Foundation at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, enhanced the ceremony by adding the reciting of the Oath of Geneva.

Katz has been hosting a White Coat Ceremony since 2002, continuing the long-standing tradition of this momentous occasion for the MD class of 2027. A meaningful aspect of the ceremony, students proudly donned their white coats for the first time after being coated and honored by Dr. Stewart, a faculty member, either a self-selected family member alumnus or a physician from a Temple-affiliated hospital. As history repeats, the Board of Visitors' past president Ronald Salvitti, MD '63, could even coat his granddaughter. 

A smiling student being coated by Dr. Stewart in a group of students receiving white coats from other people

Dr. Goldberg noted how meaningful it is to wear the coat "Wearing the white coat means aspiring to be worthy of wearing it every day" Echoing Dr. Goldberg's words, Nagendra Dhanikonda, MD Candidate '27 said with excitement, "Wearing my white coat for the first time signals the journey ahead, I feel like I've been entrusted to take care of so many vulnerable individuals and I look forward to the opportunity to serve them with dignity, respect, and pride."


The Coat's History: From Black to White

Before white coats, there were black suits. Dating back over a century, doctors traditionally wore black suits and coats. Black coats are illustrated in the world-famous and controversial piece, The Gross Clinic (1875), a painting by Philadelphia native Thomas Eakins, which debuted at the country's first world fair – The Centennial Exhibition (1876), held right here in the city of brotherly love. The painting featured a Pennsylvania native, Dr. Samuel D. Gross, one of the country's most famous living surgeons at the time, donning a Black coat. 

In the 1800s, doctors often wore black coats to respect the non-living when inspecting cadavers. In contrast, as the world transitioned into the 20th century, so did medicine. Historically scientists have worn white coats. However, as physicians and surgeons wanted to signify the growing scientific approach to medicine and align with a scientist's role, they adopted the "white coats" look, making it a statement and a movement.

White coats soon became a mainstream symbol in medicine. White coats were introduced in the 1800s as a sign of cleanliness, purity and healing. Eakins signified this change in his later painting, The Agnew Clinic (1889), where he portrays Gross in a white coat. The displays of this pivotal change in medical history are at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where both paintings reside. 


Setting the POCUS Pace

After the newly inducted students proudly donned their crisp, white coats, they watched an inspirational video about the Butterfly iQ+ Point-of-Care ultrasound device (POCUS). 

Following the inspirational video, Dr. Goldberg noted, "The future of medicine is right here at Temple." She went on to share with students two gifts they are receiving, a brand-new Temple branded stethoscope and their very own POCUS device. 

Smiling students unpacking their gifts

Dr. Goldberg said with a smile, "This is my Oprah moment," and invited students to glance under their seats. In anticipation of their gifts, they each excitedly discovered the two items that would change their career. 

The Lewis Katz School of Medicine remains the only medical college on the east coast to provide each student with both tools at the beginning of their career. 


The Gift That Keeps on Giving

A smiling student holding her POCUS device in a large group of students sitting in the audience
The POCUS device is one of the newest developments in medical technology, making numerous diagnoses easily determined from the palm of a hand. The life-changing device is a portable handheld tool placed gently on a patient's skin to capture real-time images of the internal anatomy. These images can provide valuable information about the functioning of organs such as the heart, lungs, and blood vessels.

Donated by friends, family, alumnus and Dr. Salvitti, the device was gifted to students to aid them in their upcoming coursework as a sign of their belief in the student's success. 

Students were thankful for the gifts. After receiving the gifts, Elton Wong, MD Candidate '27, expressed thanks, "Thank you so much because it makes me excited for the future of medicine that students are able to have this technology so early on."


The Butterfly Effect 

The devices are essential in diagnosing and monitoring various medical conditions at the point of care. In receiving the device, students are now equipped to use it throughout their education. Starting from the first year, they are taught the proper usage of the device, including when and how to use it effectively. Additionally, they are trained to distinguish between normal and abnormal images, enabling them to recognize and interpret pathological findings. 

Students remarked how pleased they were to receive their Butterfly POCUS device. Amanda Schmitt, MD Candidate, 27, said,

"We have the advantage of being able to start using technology way earlier in our career. It's going to be a lot of opportunities for exploration of that technology from an early point. I'm just really excited."