Incoming Brody School of Medicine student Ismail Kassim, far right, joins his class in reciting the Medical Student Pledge of Ethics during the Aug. 15 White Coat Ceremony.  (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

White Coat ceremony welcomes 80 medical students to ECU

Aug. 15, 2014

By Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services

Eighty new students were officially welcomed to the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University in an Aug. 15 ceremony that reflected the responsibilities and opportunities associated with a medical education.

It was the 14th annual White Coat Ceremony for Brody – a practice now taking place at more than 90 percent of medical schools nationwide. During the ceremony, incoming medical students are “cloaked by those who will stand behind you over the next four years,” explained Dr. Libby Baxley, senior associate dean for academic affairs at Brody.

“The physician’s life is one of leadership and service in the community and in the world,” Baxley said. “I welcome you, as our new colleagues, to the profession of medicine.”

Students crossed the stage one-by-one to receive their white coats, which were donated by 79 Brody alumni ranging from the Class of 1982 to the Class of 2013. Inside the pockets were notes of encouragement and advice.

Family medicine clinical professor Dr. Dean Patton, smiling warmly from the podium at the assembled students, also offered wisdom throughout his keynote address. He remarked on the students’ impressive academic achievements and their diverse backgrounds – hailing from 30 North Carolina counties and representing dozens of undergraduate majors from biological sciences to business to religion.

“As I move my eyes from the stats on this page to your faces…I see some joy, I see enthusiasm, I see intensity, I see warmth, I see engagement,” he said.

Family medicine clinical professor Dr. Dean Patton, keynote speaker for the event, urged the new students to take time to wonder during their experience at the Brody School of Medicine.
“In terms of your ability to treat, cure, provide medical care – you have a ways to go,” he continued. “You will do well here. You will do especially well if you take time to wonder. Take some moments to say ‘wow’ at something that’s mysterious, something that’s brand new to your experience.”

The ceremony also included the recitation of a Medical Student Pledge of Ethics, led by fourth-year student and Medical Student Council chair Matthew Rushing.

“We hope these white coats will be adequate weight on your shoulders to remind you of your responsibility,” he said, “but not so much as to weigh you down and keep you from progressing and moving forward.”

First-year student Diana Hancock described the event as an emotional start to medical school.

“It drove home that this is really happening,” she said. “And it emphasized the amazing opportunities and responsibilities that we have.”

Families of incoming students were also reveling in the day – vigorously applauding the group of students and waiting with hugs after the cloaking.

“I’m feeling wonderful and hopeful,” said Shawn Williams, mother of first-year student Jack Williams. “And I’m praying for all these students.”


News Services writer Amy Adams Ellis contributed to this report.

Pictured below, incoming medical student Alex Cecille Baumgarten receives her white coat as part of an official welcome to the Brody School of Medicine.

About the Brody School of Medicine

Class of 2018

Pictured above, incoming medical student Asem Habibi Rahman holds his nephew Zaki Rahman, who ran to join Asem after he had received his white coat.

  • All 80 students are North Carolina residents. They represent 30 counties of residence, from Haywood in the west to Dare in the east, and 23 different undergraduate institutions.

  • Exactly 50 percent are male and 50 percent are female.

  • The average age is 24, though they range in age from 21 to 44.

  • More than 27 percent (22 students) are non-Caucasians.

  • The class boasts an average undergraduate 3.6 GPA. And while 26 students majored in biology, there are also English, math, philosophy and psychology students in the class of 2018. Thirteen students completed graduate coursework before enrolling at Brody and they averaged a 3.8 GPA.

  • Fourteen students are the children of doctors and three of those are the children of Brody alumni.

  • Students will earn an M.D. degree at the Brody School of Medicine before going on to residencies – additional years of medical training – in various specialties.

  • The first two years of medical school are classroom-based and encompass basic sciences, ethics and exposure to primary care and doctoring. Year three consists of a series of predetermined clinical clerkships and the fourth year allows for more individualized clinical experiences. Much of the clinical training occurs away from Brody in rural health care settings across eastern North Carolina.