Newswise — NEW ORLEANS – On Saturday, January 7, 2023, The University of Queensland Ochsner Clinical School held its 13th annual White Coat Ceremony, a rite of passage for medical students held to emphasize the importance of compassionate patient care from the start of medical training. During the event, 70 physicians-in-training received their white coats and were honored with Humanism in Medicine pins – a visual symbol displayed on the lapel of each white coat to remind students to keep empathy at the center of clinical practice.
Yolangel (Yogi) Hernandez Suarez, MD MBA FACOG, Senior Associate Dean for Student Affairs at FIU Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine, served as the keynote speaker. Dr. Hernandez Suarez, a healthcare leader in Miami for over 20 years, has held positions in private, public, academic, and hospital settings. She spent her career building value for patients, providers, and learners through public- private partnerships, inclusive practice models, and community relationships.
The ceremony concluded with a recitation of the Ochsner Clinical School Oath, which serves as the official start to the second phase of the UQ Ochsner Medical Degree program focused on clinical experiences.
“The white coat is a symbol used to express and affirm a fundamental belief in a caring, professional medical system,” said Ronald Amedee, MD, Dean of Medical Education, Director of The University of Queensland Ochsner Clinical School. “Many patients now view the white coat as a ‘cloak of compassion’ and a symbol of the caring and hope they expect to receive from their physicians. The University of Queensland Ochsner Clinical School is proud to carry on this tradition and share in this momentous occasion as our students continue their journeys to become physicians.”
Medical students from UQ Ochsner Clinical School who received their white coats are encouraged to participate in community projects facilitated by the Ochsner Medical Student Association (OMSA). Programs include Walk with a Future Doc, a national non-profit that encourages healthy physical activity in people of all ages; Ochsner’s “Save-A-Voice” ALS Voice Banking team, made up of students who volunteer their time to help patients with newly diagnosed ALS record their voice; and The UQ STAR mentorship program, in which the UQ Ochsner Clinical School students mentor a select cohort of high school seniors by teaching clinical examination skills and other medical knowledge.
The modern-day White Coat Ceremony was revolutionized by Arnold P. Gold, MD, a teacher and pediatric neurologist at Columbia University for more than 40 years. Dr. Gold believed the symbolic gesture of handing white coats and reciting the Hippocratic Oath after four years of medical school was happening too late. He advocated for well-defined guidelines for expectations and responsibilities appropriate for the medical profession prior to the first day of training. This belief inspired the creation of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, a nonprofit he began with his wife, Sandra Gold, EdD, and the expansion of what has become known as the White Coat Ceremony around the globe.
A Unique Approach to Global Medical Education
Established in 2009, the UQ Ochsner Clinical School is a unique four-year training, academic and clinical experience. Students gain exposure to global health concepts by experiencing both the Australian and American healthcare systems.
The first two years of medical school curriculum take place in Brisbane, Australia at UQ, which ranks among the world’s top 50 universities by U.S. News Best Global Universities Ranking. The final two years of clinical study are completed with the Ochsner Health – one of the largest independent academic medical centers in the United States – located in New Orleans, LA.
Last year, UQ Ochsner Clinical School achieved a record 98% match rate through the National Residency Match Program. UQ Ochsner Clinical School students have moved on to train in every specialty at prestigious institutions across the country such as Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, University of Pennsylvania, and University of Chicago.
“The focus on global education is critically important for the future of medicine, and we are privileged to have this international partnership,” said Leonardo Seoane, MD, FACP, Executive Vice President and Chief Academic Officer, Ochsner Health. “At Ochsner, the patient is at the center of everything we do, so underscoring the importance of compassionate care to the next generation of doctors is crucial to helping communities here in Louisiana and beyond.”
For more information on the UQ Ochsner Clinical School, visit https://ochsner.uq.edu.au.
About Ochsner Health
Ochsner Health is an integrated healthcare system with a mission to Serve, Heal, Lead, Educate and Innovate. Celebrating 80 years, it leads nationally in cancer care, cardiology, neurosciences, liver and heart transplants and pediatrics, among other areas. Ochsner is consistently named both the top hospital and top children’s hospital in Louisiana by U.S. News & World Report. The not-for-profit organization is inspiring healthier lives and stronger communities. Its focus is on preventing diseases and providing patient-centered care that is accessible, affordable, convenient and effective. Ochsner Health pioneers new treatments, deploys emerging technologies and performs groundbreaking research, including over 700 clinical studies. It has more than 36,000 employees and over 4,600 employed and affiliated physicians in over 90 medical specialties and subspecialties. It operates 47 hospitals and more than 370 health and urgent care centers across Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Gulf South; and its cutting-edge Connected Health digital medicine program is caring for patients beyond its walls. In 2021, Ochsner Health treated more than 1 million people from every state and 75 countries. As Louisiana’s top healthcare educator, Ochsner Health and its partners educate thousands of healthcare professionals annually. To learn more, visit www.ochsner.org.