VP&S White Coat Ceremony Welcomes Class of 2027
The 140 members of the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons Class of 2027 gathered on Aug. 11 at the Armory for the White Coat Ceremony, an annual event at which Columbia’s incoming medical students are welcomed into the profession and cloaked in white coats by faculty members.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Arnold P. Gold White Coat Ceremony, named to honor the late Arnold P. Gold, MD, professor of neurology and pediatrics, who founded the ceremony at VP&S to reinforce a strong commitment among students to humanistic practice. The importance of humanism in medicine—especially amid societal adversity like climate change, inequity, and threats to social and reproductive justice—was emphasized by Katrina Armstrong, MD, dean of VP&S, who addressed the class.
“The scientific advances that we bring to address the challenges of today have never been greater, but our ability to exercise these advancements feels threatened daily, and our society is in deep need of the healing and compassion that your white coat symbolizes for so many people,” Armstrong said. “You will sit by patients’ bedsides, hold their hands when their world has been turned upside down. The discord vanishes and becomes meaningless. What matters most is that our families are OK, that we take care of the people we love, that we don’t suffer. By donning this white coat, you are taking on a unique role to lead us forward in a time when that level of caring has never been needed more.”
Students also heard from David D. Ho, MD, the Clyde’56 and Helen Wu Professor of Medicine and professor of microbiology & immunology at VP&S. Ho is the founding scientific director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center and, since caring for some of the first-known AIDS patients as a young resident, has been at the forefront of AIDS research for 40 years.
“Medicine is a noble profession of helping patients, one at a time, one day at a time,” Ho said. “A common refrain is that the practice of medicine has been taken out of the hands of doctors, who are being unduly burdened by bureaucratic red tape. It’s on you as the next generation of doctors to take back our honorable profession. Any one of you could cast a giant shadow on the medical field.”
After receiving their white coats, members of the Class of 2027 continued a tradition begun by VP&S medical students in 2021 by reciting an oath they wrote themselves. Their words were carefully crafted to update the Hippocratic Oath to better reflect the values they wish to uphold as they enter their medical training.
“We acknowledge that health is inseparable from intersecting identities and social factors,” said the incoming medical students. “I vow to utilize diversity as a powerful asset in medicine by tailoring my care to honor each patient’s unique lived experiences.”
VP&S Class of 2027
The class has 69 men and 71 women.
The class includes 10 students enrolled in the Columbia-Bassett Program, which combines traditional medical education at VP&S in New York City and hospital-based outpatient and inpatient clinical education at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, New York.
The class includes 14 students who will train as physician-scientists in the MD/PhD dual degree program, one student who is entering the accelerated three-year PhD-to-MD program, and two students who are entering the MD-oral and maxillofacial surgery program.
Members of the Class of 2027 come from 33 states and 53 undergraduate institutions. Nine percent of the students are first-generation college graduates.