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White Coat Ceremony Marks Rite of Passage for Medical Students


100 MD candidates entered the next phase of their training last month, as they made a solemn commitment before their families, peers and School of Medicine leaders to protect the health of their future patients. The Arnold P. Gold White Coat Ceremony, held on September 23, 2016 at the University of South Carolina Alumni Center, marked the entrée of the Class of 2020 into the noble profession of medicine.

Class of 2017 medical student David Lake officially welcomed the Class of 2020 at the event, and told students that the ability to work together as a cohesive group – a skill that is paramount in the health care field today – begins in medical school.

“Don’t miss the opportunity to help someone when they need it,” he said. “Your success is determined by your ability to work as a team.”

Ceremony speaker, interventional cardiologist and SOM alumnus Dr. Rodney Rhinehart noted that while the physician’s traditional white coat does make the wearer “look cool,” it also comes with considerable responsibility. “It’s not about me. My white coat represents the privilege of caring for patients…with compassion, clinical excellence and integrity.”

He urged students to learn to communicate with patients in a way they will understand and stressed the importance of clinical empathy along with technical expertise. “Treat them as you would your own family.”

Interest in the healing arts (and a knack for public speaking) runs in Rhinehart’s own family. His daughter, Class of 2020 student Gabrielle Rhinehart, introduced him to the large crowd at the Alumni Center. Later, she received her brand new white coat from her father.

The Rhineharts were not the only father and daughter team on stage that day – internal medicine physician and SOM alumnus Dr. Paul DeMarco was also on hand to help his daughter Grace DeMarco don her first white coat.

Photos (from top to bottom): The SOM Class of 2020, Gabrielle Rhinehart with Dr. Rodney Rhinehart, Dr. Paul DeMarco helps his daughter Grace DeMarco with her white coat.

The White Coat Ceremony was generously sponsored by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, Palmetto Health Richland and Providence Heart.

View the 2016 White Coat Ceremony photos here.


October 10th, 2016