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Ceremony launches careers in medicine for incoming medical students

Members of Penn State College of Medicine's medical class of 2017 received their first white medical coats today in the presence of family, friends and peers. The college's annual White Coat Ceremony symbolizes the students' entrance into the medical profession as student physicians.

The ceremony took place at the Hershey Lodge. Following the distribution of white coats, the students, who are pursuing M.D. or M.D./Ph.D. degrees, joined together to recite the Hippocratic oath – the universally recognized creed for physicians.

>> View photos from the 2013 White Coat Ceremony

“The white coat is an important symbol as it opens the door to a trusted relationship between a patient and a doctor,” said Dr. Terry Wolpaw, vice dean for educational affairs, Penn State College of Medicine. “The white coat bestows the privilege and responsibility of caring for, supporting and healing another human being.”

Generally, one in seven prospective medical students applies to the College of Medicine. The 149 new members of the class were selected from a pool of nearly 7,500 applicants. Forty-seven percent of the new students are Pennsylvania residents, with 26 counties represented; 53 percent are from out of state. The incoming class is 60 percent male and 40 percent female.

The College of Medicine's first White Coat Ceremony took place in 1996 with funding support from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, which works to foster humanism in medicine. Each year, the foundation donates lapel 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.” About 90 percent of the nation's medical schools hold a similar initiation ceremony for entering students.

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