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White Coat Ceremony Celebrates Students' Beginnings

Written by Adam Zewe

Dean Christian S. Stohler officially welcomed first-year dental and dental hygiene students to the health care profession during the White Coat Ceremony on Sept. 12. Standing in Davidge Hall, the students donned their symbolic white lab coats and recited the oath of dentistry. Click here to watch a video of the ceremony.

Davidge Hall is a fitting place for the ceremony, since it is the oldest continually used medical school building in the nation, explains Dean Stohler. The students are continuing a proud tradition, becoming the newest members of a profession that has served patients for centuries. "Today is the day that you are formally embraced by the community of professionals," Dr. Stohler remarks. "Professional integrity and values must define your life from this point forward."

That sentiment was echoed by keynote speaker Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, executive vice dean at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "You are role models for the next generation. You ought to take a lot of pride in that," he tells the students.

Each white coat symbolizes the compassion that is required of all health care professionals, states Bill Martin, DDS '90, president of the Maryland State Dental Association. In his welcoming remarks, he instructs students to wear their white coats with pride. "The day you put on that jacket is the day you become equals of all of us," Dr. Martin says.

The White Coat Ceremony marks the beginning of a lifelong educational journey, and students have much to anticipate, says Betty Howard, RDH '83, president of the Alumni Association. "Your university is your foundation, the very core of your potential. Maximize your time here and study hard. The benefits will be exponential," she attests.

Dental student Patrick McCurdy says the ceremony reinforced his desire to work hard in class and in the clinics. "Everything I learn in school now I must remember because it will be important for my patients' health," he states. A desire to help patients improve their health inspired dental student Lindsay Roberts to choose the profession. "The White Coat Ceremony makes things real. Now I'm starting the path to realizing my dream," she declares.

The ceremony was especially important for Jackie McCarthy, a dental hygiene student from the Eastern Shore who rarely visits Baltimore. "It is a celebration of us -- we are dedicating our life's work to helping people in the community," states McCarthy. Wearing his white coat, dental student Zach Starr says he is proud of his chosen profession and excited about his future. "It's going to be a long road, but I'm ready for what's to come," Starr concludes.

Click here to see a photo slideshow of the White Coat Ceremony and reception.

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