Division of General Internal Medicine

A Keynote, a New Oath and the First White Coat

Dr. Julia Arnsten Keynote Speaker White Coat Ceremony Video Albert Einstein College of Medicine Bronx NY
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Robbins Auditorium hummed with excitement on August 14, 2014, as Einstein's class of 2018 assembled with their families for the On Becoming a Physician Ceremony. The event, now in its seventh year, marks the beginning of the students' professional journey and commitment to medicine.

The deans for the office of student affairs—Drs. Joshua Nosanchuk, Stephen Baum and Allison Ludwig—opened the ceremony, in turn welcoming the incoming class; offering a presentation that highlighted the power and responsibility of the white coat; and introducing the event's keynote speaker Dr. Julia Arnsten.

Dr. Arnsten, professor of medicine at Einstein and chief of the division of general internal medicine at its University Hospital Montefiore Medical Center, began by encouraging the students to express their appreciation to those individuals who had supported them in their journey to Einstein. She paused as the entire class turned to acknowledge their guests.

Dr. Arnsten then shared some of her personal experiences as a medical student, resident, fellow and doctor, offering lessons that would inspire the students wear their white coats with compassion, empathy and knowledge.

She encouraged them to allow themselves to feel fear and desperation, and to harness those feelings in order to empathize with patients during dark moments. She also advised them to cultivate their ability to listen to patients, remarking, "Sometimes listening will be the only treatment you can offer."

She concluded her comments to the students by emphasizing the importance of always questioning and keeping an open mind as they advance through their medical studies. Members of Einstein's alumni association then "cloaked" the students in their new white coats.

Once the entire class had returned to their seats, first-year student Kara Stoever led her classmates in reciting the oath they had constructed together during orientation.In unison, the classmates vowed to "uphold the highest professional standards as a healer committed to lifelong learning and patient advocacy."

"We put a lot of work into the creation of the oath," noted Zenna Solomon, the pride showing in her beaming smile.

"I was proud to say our oath," agreed Lily Kosminsky. "I already feel like I'm surrounded by a community."

"Getting the white coat made me feel like I'm really truly here, beginning a new journey," added classmate Elizabeth Guevara. "I'm a little anxious, though, because people have expectations and we are just learning."

Another classmate Dinesh Rai summed things up, noting, "It's a great honor to be able to help people, but we also need to remember to always respect the responsibility that comes with the white coat."

This article was adapted from the original version, published in Around Campus. 

Deans of students, from left, Drs. Josh Nosanchuk, Allison Ludwig and Stephen Baum
Deans of students, from left, Drs. Josh Nosanchuk, Allison Ludwig and Stephen Baum
Dr. Julia Arnsten delivers the keynote address
Dr. Julia Arnsten delivers the keynote address
The class of 2018 recites their class oath
The class of 2018 recites their class oath
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