CAMDEN, N.J. – Rowan University’s Cooper Medical School (CMSRU) officially welcomed 112 first-year medical students into the medical profession at the Class of 2026 White Coat Ceremony, held at the Pfleeger Concert Hall on Friday, September 9.
The White Coat Ceremony included inspirational speeches from several special guests, the traditional “cover-up” ceremony and the students’ first recitation of a modern version of the Hippocratic Oath. The event was streamed live on the CMSRU YouTube channel for those unable to attend in person this year.
“You chose to enter medicine during a global pandemic and your attitudes will forever be shaped by this profound experience,” said Annette C. Reboli, MD, Dean of CMSRU, during her opening address. “Our job over the next four years is to help you become the person who will fill your white coat with the attitudes and skills worthy of our noble profession.”
President of Rowan University Ali Housmand, PhD, and rector of Rowan University Anthony Lowman, PhD, welcomed the students and their loved ones to the Rowan family and congratulated them on their admission to medical school.
“As you begin your journey here with us, expect great things from your university,” President Houshmand said. “And we know we can expect great things from you in the years to come.”
In his remarks, Provost Lowman congratulated the class on their accomplishments thus far.
“I see your sacrifice, your commitment, and I know you worked hard to get into medical school,” Dr. Lowman said. “Now the hard work begins. The next four years will be challenging and rewarding, and will change you in ways none of you imagined.
The guest speaker for this year’s white coat ceremony was Emily Damuth, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Emergency Medicine at CMSRU. Dr. Damuth is a clinician who divides her time between Cooper’s emergency department and the multidisciplinary intensive care unit. Additionally, she is passionate about medical education and mentoring medical students, residents, and fellows, and is associate program director for the Critical Care Medicine Fellowship at Cooper and Advisory College Director at CMSRU. Dr. Damuth shared her experiences working in Cooper’s intensive care unit and the unexpected lessons she learned.
“As we place a neatly pressed white coat around your shoulders, understand that medicine is wrinkled with creases and bumps and bumps, and the occasional coffee stain. But wrinkles are where the sense of medicine, in white coats full of to-do lists and newspaper articles searched at 2 a.m. to understand the disease and find evidence of treatment,” Dr. Damuth said. “Soon your pockets will be full lists of patients who are first and foremost people, imprinting lessons on your mind and emotions on your memories.”
After Dr. Damuth’s presentation, the students were called one by one onto the stage, where they were masked in their white coats by faculty mentors. Each student also received a new stethoscope compliments of medical staff at Cooper University Health Care, and a copy of the book wonder drug compliments of its authors, Anthony Mazzarelli, MD, JD, co-chair of Cooper University Health Care, and Stephen Trzeciak, MD, chairman and chief of Cooper’s Department of Medicine. In addition, family and friends provided inspirational notes which were placed in the pockets of the students’ white coats.
Associate Dean of Admissions William Kocher, MD, then led freshmen to recite a modern version of the Hippocratic Oath for the first time. All the guests who were doctors were invited to stand up and renew their commitment by also participating in the recitation.
CMSRU’s 112 first-year medical students join the 343 students already enrolled in the school, bringing enrollment to 455 students. Sixty-six percent of the Class of 2026 are from New Jersey and 14 are Rowan University alumni.
The first white coat ceremony was held in 1993 at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and has become an important rite of passage for first-year medical students at schools across the United States.
# # #