Adam Prevot (Class of 2021)
While still a relatively young tradition, the white coat ceremony has quickly become a mainstay in the medical training community as an opportunity to instill humanism in the hearts of future physicians from early on in their careers. On April 21st, 2018, the LSUHSC School of Medicine Class of 2021 donned the white coat for the first time in the company of their friends, family, and trusted faculty.
The white coat ceremony began in 1993 when Dr. Arnold Gold, a pediatric neurologist, realized that young medical students are often so engulfed in learning disease processes that they often forget that the face of a patient – an actual human, sits on the other side of a disease. Dr. Gold began to roll out white coat ceremonies at medical schools across the country with the idea of setting the expectation of “human centered medicine” as the gold standard of care for the physician from day one of training. With this ideal in mind, Dr. Gold started the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS), which recognizes medical students who exhibit exceptional humanism in their approach to medical education and in every day life. The Class of 2021 reaffirmed Dr. Gold’s mission on that Saturday, highlighted by a promise to uphold ideals that echo Dr. Gold’s original mission with a “pledge to never forget that the practice of medicine is an earned privilege and that the well-being of the patient should always come first.”
The festivities of the Class of 2021’s white coat ceremony kicked off in the Superdome with a welcome from Dr. Steve Nelson, the Dean of the LSU School of Medicine. Following Dr. Nelson’s welcome, Brittany Foret, the Class of 2021 OSR Representative introduced the LSUHSC nominee for the AAMC Humanism in Medicine award – Dr. Randy Roig. Dr. Roig serves as assistant chief of the PM&R Service while also being extremely involved in the clinical education of LSU medical students, residents, and fellows. As a pain management specialist Dr. Roig regularly encounters patients when they are in debilitating pain – often the worst pain of their life. His speech during the ceremony highlighted his patient-centered care that purposefully approaches each patient as a human first – separate from his or her disease with an identity that is not defined by their pain.
Following Dr. Roig’s speech, GHHS President Victoria Serven presented the Class of 2019’s Lucie Calderon, the winner of GHHS Humanism in Medicine Essay contest. Lucie recounted a poignant story of her time at Children’s Hospital in the Oncology unit where she encountered the family of a young patient who had previously lost his battle to leukemia. The younger brother of the late patient spread joy and cheer to current patients on Valentine’s Day – the anniversary of his older brother’s death. Lucie’s essay highlights the call for physicians to approach medicine with the same purity and love for others that this child displays, even in the face of incredible challenges.
Dr. Fred Lopez served as the master of ceremonies during the event while Dr. Hamilton Farris and Dr. Cathy Lazarus assisted in conferring the coats with each student being “coated” by a distinguished faculty member selected by the Class of 2021. These faculty members were selected for their outstanding commitment to the education and development of the Class of 2021 and the conferring faculty included Dr. Robert Maupin, Dr. Andrew Hollenbach, Dr. Robin English, Dr. Cacky Hebert, Dr. David Worthylake, Dr. Patricia Molina, Dr. William Swartz, and Dr. Bud Landry. After all coats were conferred, several members of the Class of 2021 led the rest of the class in the Oath of Ideals which proudly proclaimed an ardent commitment to place the patient first and foremost in all aspects of the practice of medicine.
Dr. Arnold Gold died this year. There is no doubt that with the loss of this incredible human the world also lost a man rich in one of our scarcest resources today – compassion. Though he is gone, his legacy permeated throughout the Superdome on that afternoon as the Class of 2021 placed his mission firmly on our own shoulders. There is a new guard of doctors on the rise. A generation of healers educated in the shadow of a man who saw a “love problem” in medicine and took meaningful steps to fix it – and we should all be thankful for that.
The Class of 2021 would like to extend a special thanks to the Office of Student Affairs, whom without White Coat Ceremony would not have been possible. An extra–special–thanks goes out to Melanie Brown and Dr. Kourtnie Robin, whom without I surely would have had at least one meltdown trying to juggle planning the ceremony with the rigors of medical school.
Adam A. Prevot – President – Class of 2021