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“Because of how society views the medical profession, physicians are leaders. Whether you knew this or not when you started your first day, you are. Leaders communicate a vision, engender trust and buy-in of those they are leading, and nurture a spirit of teamwork to enable realization of that vision.” — Dr. Keisha Gibson

Keisha Gibson, MD, MPH (Photo by Brian Strickland)
Keisha Gibson, MD, MPH (Photo by Brian Strickland)

(Edited from the UNC Health Care Newsroom.)

On September 16, the UNC School of Medicine Class of 2021 was formally welcomed with the annual White Coat Ceremony. The event, held this year at the Durham Performing Arts Center, is an opportunity for students, along with their families and friends, to celebrate their accomplishments and look forward to the beginning of their medical training and career.

The event began with a processional, followed by remarks from UNC School of Medicine leaders including Dean of the UNC School of Medicine, William L. Roper, MD, MPH, and Executive Dean, Wesley Burks, MD. The keynote address this year was given by Keisha Gibson, MD, MPH, chief of pediatric nephrology.

“In this ever-changing complicated health care system, our patients are relying on us as their physicians to be their advocate in securing an environment that will permit their access to the most excellent care,” said Dr. Gibson. “And whether or not you signed up for the job description of “leader”—remember you are. Speaking on behalf of your faculty I will leave you with one charge— And that is with kindness—be great—not perfect—We’re only asking for great.”

Photo by Brian Strickland
Photo by Brian Strickland

Following remarks from Gibson, each member of the class of 2021 came to the stage and was presented their white coat by Georgette Dent, MD, Associate Dean for Student Affairs. The white coat is one of our most symbolic garments, and receiving the white coat marks the formal beginning of the medical careers of these 180 students.

As is tradition at UNC, each student’s coat contained an inspirational message from a UNC SOM alumnus in the front pocket. The “Words of Wisdom” effort is organized by the Medical Foundation.

The ceremony ended with the students reciting the “Oath of Student Responsibilities,” a student written adaptation of the Hippocratic Oath. It ends with this pledge:

“Knowing my own limitations and those of medicine, I commit myself to a lifelong journey of learning how to cure, to relieve, and to comfort with humility and compassion.”