News & Events

Class of 2008 Welcomed at School's First White Coat Ceremony

September 15, 2004

"What did the White Coat Ceremony mean to you? How did it make you feel?"

White Coat CeremonyMembers of the Class of 2008 received a distinctive welcome to the School of Veterinary Medicine at the school's first White Coat Ceremony September 10.

In recent years, white coat ceremonies have become a way for medical and veterinary schools to officially introduce students into their professional education and their many roles in the medical health community.

"It made me feel very welcomed into the profession"

Bennie I. Osburn, dean, welcomed the 122 first-year students to the school and told them that the white coat signifies their transition into veterinary medicine."The white coats symbolize the students' entrance into the last phase of their long journey to become doctors of veterinary medicine."

"It made me feel more official."

Barry Watson, DVM, Veterinary Affairs Manager, Academic Affairs, Hill's Pet Nutrition, spoke to students on behalf of Hill's, which provided the white coats for the ceremony. "I'm very excited for you to be in the seat coveted by many...but reached by only a few people who have chosen veterinary medicine as the fulfillment of a lifetime achievement and earned their right for that chosen position."

"I feel very excited; it is very meaningful."

Watson also alluded to the symbolism of the white coat. "The white coat symbolizes the importance of empathy and compassion in the important human-animal bond. Do not forget that each of you will have an opportunity to make a difference in the life of every person and animal you come in contact with as you wear your white coat."

"It's a first step. Veterinary school feels a lot more real."

Brian Evans, president of the Student Chapter of the American Veterinary Medical Association and member of the Class of 2006, acknowledged Michele Hoag (Class of 2005) for her "vision" in helping to establish the ceremony for fellow students. Evans, who assisted students in putting on their white coats, said, "This is the first step of the last step, and in four years you will be given another coat, but that time the word 'doctor' will accompany it."

"It united our class for the first time."

White Coat CeremonyEvans encouraged the first-year students to begin immediately to think and act as members of the profession. "Starting now, let these white coats remind you to pursue the highest ethical standards. Be active in your community, starting now. As you receive these coats, you are being inducted in to a new community, one that is small, but highly respected. And the community here at Davis is even smaller, but you will get to know them as family. You will find support at every turn from the administration to your fellow classmates."

Jan E. Ilkiw, associate dean for Academic Programs, stated, "Welcome to one of the greatest, if not the greatest profession. We are the stewards of 'all things great and small.'" Ilkiw added that the event was an opportunity to think of the characteristics that each student will take on during the four-year DVM program, including respect for and humane treatment of animals; compassionate communication with clients; commitment to their academic education and ongoing training; a willingness to place the patient above oneself; and other professional characteristics to be developed during the four-year DVM degree program.

"It's exciting to be the first class to receive the white coats. I expect it to become a tradition. And when I'm 70 years old, I can look back and say that I was part of the first one."

The ceremony ended as Dean Osburn and Associate Dean for Student Programs Susan V. Hildebrand led a recitation of the Veterinary Medical Student Oath, whereby students pledged to develop their scientific knowledge for the benefit of society and acknowledged their commitment to lifelong education, responsibilities to colleagues and clients, the protection of animal health, and the promotion of public health.

Dean Osburn concluded, "We will do our utmost to provide you with the best veterinary education possible. It's the most important thing we do."

"My dad and some of his friends are vets. I've revered them for years, and now I'm standing among them."

Orientation activities took place September 8 and 10. Forty-eight students also participated in a leadership workshop held the first week in September. Classes began September 13.