By Thomas Kohout
Family and friends filled the aisles associated with Lisner Auditorium to witness the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) medical doctor program Class associated with 2026 take the first symbolic step on their path toward becoming physicians during the particular 24th annual White Coat and Honor Code Ceremony.
The event was the most widely attended ceremony in school history, said Barbara Bass, vice president of health affairs, dean associated with SMHS plus CEO of the GW Medical Faculty Associates.
“This really is a public marking of your commitment as physicians, ” she told the students in her welcoming remarks. “As you put on that white coat for the particular first time, that broadly recognized uniform of a physician, and as you recite that will honor code with your faculty, you are announcing that a person are taking on that burden, that responsibility, and that enormous privilege of being the physician. ”
Bass advised the college students that medicine can extract much from their lives. “It will demand time plus energy, and you are going to face great sorrow within this business you’re dealing with. ” For all its hardships, she added, medicine is worth it. “In return, medication rewards a person with amazing joy, knowledge, wisdom and human connections of unimaginable intensity. ”
Continuing a two-decade tradition, first-year SMHS medical learners receive their white coats, as well as the commemorative reflex hammer, plus recite the honor program code. The event is sponsored by the particular GW Medical Alumni Association and the White Coat Initiative, which provide financial support for the white coats, supplies used during Community Service Day, and educational technology and software. This gift allows SMHS alumni in order to forge relationships with students entering the field and to welcome them into the particular professional community.
This year’s class of 181 students from 25 states, Washington, D. C., Canada, and China represented 76 universities plus included 23 GW alumni and SMHS legacies. The class brings an impressive list of accomplishments — advanced degrees and research experience — plus boasts AmeriCorps volunteers, Fulbright scholars, nurses, EMTs, healthcare scribes, hospice workers, military veterans, a lawyer, and an Olympic speed skater. The particular Class associated with 2026 is the school’s most diverse yet, with 52% women and 65% identifying as non-white.
In his comments, Senior Associate Dean for M. D. Programs Richard Simons reminded the audience that the incoming class is entering their training at a time of seismic change in medicine. However , at its heart, medicine will be a humanistic discipline with the patient at the center.
“This ceremony is a reminder associated with our prime goal, which is to serve our patients, ” he said.
He added, “If I could leave you with one piece of advice today it’s this— be curious. I believe it’s curiosity [that] converts patients into people we can empathize along with. It advances both the particular science plus the art of medication. ”
This particular year’s student speaker was fourth-year medical student Nicolas Leighton, who offered his insight and experience to the class. A self-described “huge Marvel comics fan, ” Leighton recalled feeling like a superhero the first time he donned his white colored coat.
“I remember thinking it was some sort of the ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ type of moment, ” Leighton said. “But looking back, putting on the white coat for the particular first time was more as if I was meeting a new person. ”
Exhilarated, but also intimidated, he struggled to understand who this new Nicolas Leighton has been and decided to stick to a script of dense medical jargon and what was deemed “professional. ” It wasn’t until their third-year rotations, when this individual met his first patient, that he put it together. His patient, Mrs. M, was a kind woman in the girl 50s, that had just been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Each day during morning rounds, what was supposed to be the 30-second talk about how she was feeling, somehow turned into a five-minute conversation about her life story plus her aspirations.
“In these moments, I simply forgot about ‘medical Nick. ’ I was simply Chip in a white coating, who was brought to this particular woman’s bedside to offer whatever assistance and comfort I could.
“My message in order to you today is, the white coat is not your superpower, ” he or she said. “You were each chosen with regard to your talents, experiences, and perspectives, and it has earned you a seat here today. Challenge yourself every day to hone your healthcare knowledge, just as much as you do your own radical individuality. ”
The keynote address for this year’s ceremony had been delivered by Julie E. Bauman, director of the GW Cancer Center, associate dean of cancer, and professor of medicine.
“I truly view medicine as a sacred mission, ” she informed the college students. She additional, however, that will listening to Dean Simons’ introduction, plus the recitation of her lengthy academic resume, left her underwhelmed.
“Listening to my introduction, I found it dry and devoid associated with anything that is the true North Star, ” Bauman said. Despite the girl many achievements and leadership positions, this didn’t reflect the spirit of why she chose the life of a physician.
“I set out to become the best physician I can be, bringing together the particular intersection of science plus humanism. ”
Bauman remembered her true North Star moment, one she would turn to time and again for inspiration and motivation when the challenges to be the physician grew too heavy. During her first year as a medical student, a gynecologic oncologist presented the lecture on the doctor-patient relationship, describing the many aspects of that connection.
“Then we got to a Q & A, and somebody in my course asked the girl, ‘How do you live in a profession where you have to give bad news to a patient every single day? ’ ” Bauman were recalled. “She stepped out through behind the podium plus said, ‘Because I love our patients. ’ That was it for me. And that is my Northern Star. ”
Following the remarks, one by one, the particular students crossed the phase to put on their own white jackets, sign the honor code, and then recite the SMHS oath, solemnly declaring their particular commitment in order to scientific integrity, ethical practice and service to individuals.