A new class of prospective doctors from 41 countries embarked on its educational journey at St. George’s University at the symbolic White Coat Ceremonies on January 30, 2015. Miles away from the rest of their class in Grenada, part of the entering medical class participated in their White Coat Ceremony at Northumbria University in Newcastle, UK on January 16. These medical students have taken a bold and unique path towards their medical careers, choosing to study for one year as part of SGU’s Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP), before joining their colleagues in Grenada.
As the highlight of the ceremonies, the students were robed in their white coats by esteemed members of the medical field, an iconic moment representative of their inclusion into the profession and their commitment to professionalism and humanitarianism, a sentiment echoed by their recitation of the Oath of Professional Commitment.
“The White Coat symbolizes professionalism, caring, and trust,” said Dr. John Madden, MD SGU ’81, Master of Ceremonies of the White Coat Ceremonies in Grenada. “While receiving your White Coats represents your initiation into the profession, it also serves to remind us all to continue to embrace the humanistic and ethical practice of medicine.”At Northumbria’s ceremony, Master of Ceremonies, Matthew Boles, MD, ’03, encouraged the students to be “present, joyful and grateful” in their practice of medicine.
At Grenada’s White Coat Ceremony, Dr. Matthew Wynia, Director of the Institute for Ethics at the American Medical Association, delivered an inspirational keynote address. “The secret of doctors who are joyful in their practice is that we are constantly creating, reinforcing, refining, and remaking our professional culture,” he said. He urged the students to be part of the conversation that shapes the culture of the medical profession and to see the profession as an ”infinite game,” a lifelong, ever-changing pursuit with no winner or loser, pursued for the sheer purpose of improvement through challenges and the deeper value and meaning they bring to life.
Dr. Wynia also encouraged the incoming class to keep asking themselves critical questions about what makes life worthwhile, what gives life meaning, and what they should dedicate their time to. “These questions must be asked and answered,” he said. “It is dangerous, actually, for all of us if we, as individuals and as members of this shared profession, don’t continuously explore and find answers to these questions.”
Over in Northumbria, keynote speaker Dr. Beryl Souza, a Plastic Surgeon at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, and an Honorary Clinical Lecturer in plastic surgery at Imperial College, also encouraged the students to see the deeper meaning and value in their chosen profession. She encouraged the students to see the practice of medicine as an art, which requires not only their medical knowledge but also their judgment and wisdom. She also urged the KBTGSP students to be agents of change, to seek to improve quality of life, to be advocates for their patients and to appreciate the value of human life. “They trust you with their lives; you must earn their trust.”
The Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program (KBTGSP) provides students accepted to St. George’s University School of Medicine the unique opportunity to spend their first year of Basic Medical Sciences at Northumbria University in Newcastle, England, followed by study in Grenada and clinical rotations in the United States, United Kingdom, and Grenada. Students follow the same curriculum as Grenada and are taught by SGU faculty while in the United Kingdom.
At the ceremonies, four St. George’s University alumni – Thomas Truitt, MD, ‘89, Rajiv Narula, MD, ‘89, Martin Stransky, MD, ‘83, and Dr. Timothy McKinney – had the distinct honor of robing their own children. These students and the entering medical class join the legacy of over 14,000 physicians, veterinarians, scientists, and public health and business professionals who have graduated from St. George’s University and now practice around the world.