Students from 36 countries were inducted into the profession of medicine at St. George’s University School of Medicine’s White Coat Ceremony on August 29, while many family members watched with pride and joy.
The theme of the evening was framed by the keynote speaker, Susan Cohen, MD, Medical Director of the Palliative Care Program at Bellevue Hospital in New York who used the symbolic white coat itself as treasure trove of metaphors for a well-lived professional life. The white coat has many pockets in which practicing doctors keep essential items. She urged the incoming medical students to also keep in their pockets the essential qualities of a good physician – intellectual curiosity, humility, determination and empathy.
“Be sure that even if your white coat covers your heart, it does not close your heart to the experience of your patients,” she said. “Sometimes you will need to think outside the box and get creative. When you are challenged about what to do, dig deep into your white coat pockets and you will find the way.”
The master of ceremonies for the evening, Dr. Jonathan Ashcroft, MD SGU ’08 vividly remembers his own White Coat Ceremony at SGU exactly eight years ago. He shared an enlightening experience in his medical career where a patient’s hospitalization following an accident led to the fortuitous early detection and successful treatment of a rare and potentially lethal cancer.
“Chance favors the prepared mind. The education you receive at SGU will prepare your mind,” he said. “Take advantage of all the opportunities open to you here. Challenge yourself, learn from each other, and enjoy your journey. The best is yet to come.”
Chancellor Modica urged the incoming students to take advantage of the enormous opportunity they had. “I want you to realize and cherish the fact that you will be working, living, and studying with people from all countries, faiths, and backgrounds,” said Charles R. Modica, Chancellor of St. George’s University. “You will become a family and you will leave here with so much more than your degree. You will leave here with a greater respect and understanding of the people of the world.”
Three alumni – Charter Class graduate Paul Verona, MD SGU ’81; Joe Behymer, MD SGU ’87; and Michele Belding, MD SGU ‘82 – each had children following in their footsteps and continuing their SGU legacy. As alumni, they each had the special honor of robing their children on stage at the ceremony. In addition, the White Coat Ceremonies punctuated the first full day of activities of the University’s bi-annual Beyond Spice Family Weekend, enabling students and family members to soak up nature and culture in Grenada prior to students’ first steps into the medical profession.
The students entering the MD program in Grenada form the majority of a class which includes SGU students who began their journey in medical education at Northumbria University, UK as part of the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program on August 15. After one year, these students will join their peers in Grenada for the completion of their basic sciences curriculum.