On Friday, August 16, 2013, first year students from Meharry’s Schools of Medicine, Dentistry and Graduate Studies and Research, took another step closer to their health professions’ degrees when they donned their white coats before their families, friends and professors, vowing to practice their vocation with integrity, dignity and, most of all, compassion.
Each program began with an invocation from Robin H. Kimbrough, J.D., M.Div., Chaplain and Special Advisor to the President for United Methodist Church Affairs and a welcome from Dr. A. Cherrie Epps, President and Chief Executive Officer of Meharry Medical College. Dr. Epps told students that,
“Today you go from being a lay person to a professional.” She reminded them that when they wear their white coat they must, “Always remember who and what you represent, because everyone who sees you in your white coat will have high expectations of you. They know that someone who wears a Meharry white coat is someone they can rely on for help.”
Stephanie C. McClure, M.D., F.A.C.P., Executive Vice Dean, Office of Student and Academic Affairs of the School of Medicine and Professor of Internal Medicine at Meharry, was the keynote speaker for the School of Medicine.
She asked students to, “Look to your left. Look to your right.” When she went on to say, “Know that this class of 2017 will graduate together as a class.” McClure stressed that, “A medical education includes mutual respect, trust, congeniality, honesty, compassion and accountability.”
At the White Coat Ceremony for the School of Dentistry, 61 anxious students lined up as they waited to walk into the hall to hear their name, so they too, could slip on their much coveted white coat.
Cherae Farmer-Dixon, DDS., ’90, MSPH. ’94 and Dean of the School of Dentistry, gave a warm greeting to first year dental students, saying they had “chosen the right place” to pursue their dental career. Farmer-Dixon told them to honor and always uphold Meharry’s mission, “Worship of God through Service to Mankind.”
She added that students should practice dentistry respectfully, ethically and with responsibility.
H. Clifton Simmons III, D.D.S.,President-Elect of the Tennessee Dental Association, told students to realize the importance of oral health care, even more so than ever before and wished them much success.
The afternoon continued with the White Coat Ceremony held for the Ph.D. and the Master of Science in Public Health (MSPH) candidates of the School of Graduate Studies and Research. Nine Ph.D. contenders received their white coats and 17 MSPH students were pinned by their professors.
George C. Hill, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology and Medical Education and Administration Emeritus; Levi Watkins, Jr. Professor in Medical Education Emeritus Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and the Founder and President of Leadership Excellence, LLC., was guest speaker for the School of Graduate Studies and Research.
“In order to be a successful researcher and scientist,” Hill said, “You must learn how to communicate and cooperate with your fellow students, researchers and faculty. You must acquire the skills of humility, listening, productive debate, respect for others’ opinions and the importance of developing team building skills. at is how research is done today.”
His last bit of advice: “be yourself.”