June 2021 - The acceptance of a white coat is a tradition among health professions and serves as a symbol of commitment to providing compassionate, ethical care to patients. Furthermore, the wearing of a white coat should be recognized as a major step in the journey to becoming a doctor and a marker of the transition into clinical education.
On June 23rd, the Class of 2023 accepted their white coats from Allan J. Kucine, DDS, Interim Dean, and David K. Lam, MD, PhD, DDS, Interim Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, at Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine’s White Coat Ceremony. The moment was one worth waiting for; the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the in-person ceremony for over a year.
The White Coat Ceremony for Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine's Class of 2023 was held on June 23rd, 2021, at Stony Brook University's Staller Center for the Arts. The ceremony was made possible through support by Patterson Dental.
According to student Karen Doh, a member of the Class of 2023, the day was a celebration in unison with her classmates. The receipt of the white coat, she said, "reminds us of the amazing and challenging times we've been through — from pre-clinic to the pandemic, and all that we are about to learn and accomplish together in the clinic."
Similarly, student Jonathan Shiloah reflected on the foundational knowledge acquired in the time leading up to entering into direct patient care. "Receiving this white coat means becoming one step closer to living our dream," he said. "This milestone serves as a reminder of the importance of our education and how we can create a great impact on our patients' lives."
Dr. Lam provided the Ceremonial Address, speaking to the students about the symbolic meaning of the white coat historically within medicine. By reading emotional feedback from his patients, he highlighted the power of making patients feel listened to, respected, and cared for. Following Dr. Lam's remarks, the students walked across the stage to receive their white coats, cheered on by honored guests, faculty, staff, and loved ones in attendance and virtually.
During the White Coat Ceremony, Dr. Ralph H. Epstein was honored with the Distinguished Alumnus Award presented by Dr. Stacy Reisfeld, President of the Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine Alumni Board. Dr. Epstein, Program Director for the Advanced Education Program in Dental Anesthesia, was nominated by fellow alumni for his personification of the School of Dental Medicine's tradition for excellence.
Dr. Epstein used his remarks to emphasize the significance of this day for the Class of 2023 as they begin clinical care and honor the role that dentists have played within the COVID-19 pandemic as healthcare providers despite risks to themselves. Dr. Epstein is himself the embodiment of the prestigious white coat, having dedicated his career to improving oral healthcare for individuals with special needs.
To conclude the ceremony, the Class of 2023 was joined by all dentists present in the recitation of the Hippocratic Oath. In reading the words of the Oath aloud, the students declared their commitment publicly to provide oral healthcare with honor and integrity, to maintain their patients' trust, and to serve in their best interest.
"My white coat is my promise to continue my passion for learning, teaching, and serving our community," said student Setareh Zareh. "It is a reminder of the journey I had to take for my dream of becoming a dentist to come true."