Annual White Coat Ceremony signifies launch of careers in medicine

August 11, 2008

Hershey, Pa. — Penn State College of Medicine initiated its first-year medical students pursuing medical degrees or medical/doctor of philosophy degrees with the annual White Coat Ceremony held Friday, Aug. 8, at the Hershey Theatre.

In the presence of family, friends and peers, incoming students received their first white medical coat, a symbol of their entrance into the medical profession as student physicians. Following the distribution of white coats, 145 members of the entering class joined together to recite the Hippocratic oath, the universally recognized creed for physicians.

"Each year, this ceremony sets the groundwork for the highest standards of medical care and compassion for patients. These are ideals that students will carry with them for the next four years and beyond as doctors," said Richard J. Simons, vice dean for educational affairs, Penn State College of Medicine, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Generally, one in six prospective medical students apply to the College of Medicine. This year the average grade point average for incoming students was 3.67. The class is 50 percent male and 50 percent female. They come from 30 states and 15 countries. This year 38 students are from the local region.

The College of Medicine initiated its annual White Coat Ceremony in 1996 with funding support from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, a public foundation fostering humanism in medicine. Each year, the foundation donates lapels pins for the honorary white coats that are emblazoned with a stethoscope in the shape of a heart, surrounded by the words "Humanism in Medicine."

A white coat ceremony or similar rite of passage takes place at more than 90 percent of schools of medicine and osteopathy in the United States.

For photos from the event, check Penn State Live at


  • Click on image for more photos of White Coat Ceremony.

    IMAGE: Ken Smith

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated November 18, 2010