Meharry Medical College Board Chair Nelson L. Adams III, M.D., helps first-year medical student Chinanu Chi-Ukpai with her white coat.

NASHVILLE, TN — Students studying medicine, dentistry and research received their white coats last Friday during ceremonies signifying the beginning of their professional school experience at Meharry Medical College.

Proud family members and friends turned out to support their doctors-to-be during white coat ceremonies at Meharry Friday. The event was the first to allow families to attend since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020.

The White Coat Ceremony is an annual event for first-year health sciences students pursuing doctorates. At Meharry, the ceremony was divided according to school—the School of Medicine, the School of Dentistry and the School of Graduate Studies and Research (white coats for Ph.D. students, pins for Master of Public Health students). Held in the ballroom at the college’s Cal Turner Family Center for Student Education, this event was the first to allow family and friends to attend since the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020. “We’ve gone far too long without coming together in these ceremonies where we can acknowledge your support and your nurturing,” said Meharry Board Chair Nelson L. Adams III, M.D. who welcomed attendees. “It is no small component of the success of these new Meharrians.”

According to the event programs prepared by the three schools of study, 196 white coats were given out—117 to medical students, 74 to dental students and five to research students. Master of Public Health students receiving pins numbered 18.

Adams told the students awaiting the donning of their white coats that, like those Meharrians before them, they were not here by accident. “I like to think that the moment you purposed to come to Meharry, your life changed. When you were notified that you were accepted, you were put on a new path with promise of a future to touch lives and bring good health and well-being to those you serve,” he said. “What an awesome thought that you’ve been directed to this place at this time—that everything in your life has led you to this moment, and that you are ready.”