"You are talented, gifted, and have much to offer the world as you take care of the problems that have landed on your shoulders!"
Members of the Class of 2014 at Cornell's College of Veterinary Medicine participated in the White Coat Ceremony on December 1, receiving one of the most recognized symbols of the veterinary profession and marking a significant milestone in the journey toward the development of clinical confidence and competence.
“The white coat ceremony marks the transition of students from learning the language and scientific basis of medicine, to learning the art and science of the delivery of medicine,” said Dr. Michael I. Kotlikoff, Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell. “Both elements are an essential part of medical education and an appropriate dose of each makes a good doctor. But in addition to the scientific and technical skills that are required to succeed, part of learning to be a good and effective doctor is learning to balance what you know with what your patients and clients need. Students with the most sophisticated and up-to-date knowledge of medicine will be poor doctors if they don’t also learn how to use that knowledge for the benefit of their patients and clients.”
Cornell’s College of Veterinary Medicine adds special meaning to this rite of passage in two ways. During the ceremony, veterinarians and faculty who have provided mentorship to our students will participate in the ceremony by coating the recipients. Similarly, family and friends who have provided support and encouragement were asked to rise and be acknowledged at the time of coating.
This year, several speakers offered words of advice and encouragement to the students.
Dr. Edward von der Schmidt '79 is a neurosurgeon with the Princeton Healthcare Center and the president of the College's Alumni Association, the organization responsible for initiating and sponsoring the annual event. Dr. von der Schmidt led the class in reciting the Veterinarian's Oath, after brief remarks that conveyed his pride in being a Cornellian and hope that members of the class experience that same sense of pride as well as a feeling of personal satisfaction with the knowledge that the veterinary profession is considered one of the most noble.
Dr. Prema Arasu '94 is the vice provost of international programs and professor of parasitology at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University. In her remarks, Dr. Arasu encouraged the newly coated students to stretch themselves and look for opportunities to move outside of their comfort zones. This, she said, is what will inspire unrealized potential. She also urged the students to maintain connections with their classmates and to get to know professors as more than just teachers, noting that these colleagues will become tremendous resources in the future. Finally, Dr. Arasu suggested that the students look forward to embracing change, as their careers will likely take different trajectories throughout their lives.
Dr. Bud Tenant, the James Law Professor of Comparative Medicine at the College, shared with members of the audience his views on the science and art of veterinary medicine, noting that art is not the antithesis of science. Dr. Tenant noted the growing need for clinical research in the veterinary profession and explained that the delivery of veterinary medicine must be thoughtful and compassionate.
In concluding the ceremony, Dr. Michael I. Kotlikoff, the Austin O. Hooey Dean of Veterinary Medicine, looked to the future.
"Following our ceremony today, these white coats will get a little dirty and perhaps a little smelly, as our students take over as the front line of patient care in our hospitals and ambulatory service," said Dr. Kotlikoff. "Our budding clinicians will stay up all night in the ICUs, wrestle cows and recover horses, answer endless probing questions from clinicians and owners, and learn to live without much sleep or with a phone by the pillow. Through this time-honored process they will experience for the first time, and in a measured way, what it means to have primary responsibility for the health and well being of patients, and how to communicate with and calm anxious owners. So please try to cut them a little slack, because we’ll cut them very little."
Posted December 5 , 2012