A tradition like no other — and no, we don’t mean The Masters.
Medical schools nationwide hold their own versions of the white coat ceremony, where incoming students are presented with the garment that symbolizes their entrance into the medi-cal profession.
The first white coat ceremony was held in 1993 at the Co-lumbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. It quickly spread across the continent. At UNLV, the School of Dental Medicine led the charge with its first white coat ceremony for the Class of 2002.
At the Kirk Kerkorian School of Medicine at UNLV, each incoming class writes its own oath to be recited in front of teachers, family, and peers during the ceremony.
Curiously, medical professionals used to be known for wearing black. That changed late in the 19th century once Dr. Joseph Lister began to apply germ theory to surgical practice and watched as post-surgical infections plummeted after he started using antiseptic phenol in his operating room.
“The implementation of antisepsis contributed to the transi-tion of medicine to a science-based discipline,” said Dr. Neil Haycocks, vice dean of academic affairs and education at the medical school. “Cleanliness became a core tenet of medical practice, reflected in the pure white attire now inextricably linked with the profession.”
At the Class of 2023’s ceremony, Haycocks instructed the audience, “Take a mental snapshot” of the bright white coats. “It will provide an interesting contrast to what they will accumu-late by the end of third year: crumbs from hastily eaten snacks, stains from hastily consumed energy drinks, pen and pencil marks from hastily scribbled notes, and evidence of encounters with various bodily substances that I will not enumerate here.” And to the students themselves, “Remember, bleach is your friend.”