Introducing medicine White Coat CeremonyInhalation, Perspiration, Exhalation, self- abnegation, equivocation, urination, devastations, etc. are just a highlight of the many things I have in my struggle to get to a medical school. The list could continue and I am sure my classmates would also say the same. But finally we are here, coated freshly in while and racing already in order to remain on track. Our white coat ceremony actually was just timely even though it reminded us of the sacrifices we had to make to be where we are, why we had to do it and what is expected of us as medical physicians and students. It is worthy to note that this is just a young aspect of our long medicine history, with the first having taken place back in 1993.

The White Coat Ceremony

The main goal of this ceremony has always been injection of humanism bolus in students once they have started their medical training. Us as students have heard admonitions and read articles on the decline of the empathy of medical students by the time they are in their third year when they start to see the patients on full time basis. Actually, when I was working at the Columbia’s Program in Narrative Medicine where I founded Working Group on Patient Centered Medicine, erosion of empathy in medical school as common as lunch on a typical day, meaning that it was very often. In fact, my undergraduate thesis was about physician- patient communication, hoping that it was going to make others more effective and humanistic clinicians.

The need for clinicians to be humanistic

After I read The Soul of a Doctor, I felt quite energized but wasn’t adequately prepared to handle two years of constant trauma at the wards while I maintained empathy and attentiveness that every patient deserves. But how can we get inoculated against desentization, cynism and also against wretched tendency of staff at hospitals to refer to the patients by the conditions they are having? Speeches after speeches, we were the reminded of our responsibility of ethically and professionally carrying ourselves but most importantly, the need for us to be humanistic. But what exactly does this mean? Does discussing about humanistic medicine really make us humanistic? How can students learn about being humanistic and how can we get inoculated against cynicism and desentization?

Actually, I might not be having an answer to this, but I got an observation. Being a fledgling member in this profession, many are times when I have noticed solipsism in medicine. I somehow like professionalism lectures as they are a constant reminder to me that I am in a profession showered with independence, privilege and respect. Nevertheless, the root of this problem should be identified and incorporated in medical training courses.