Incoming MU School of Medicine class dons first white coats

Friday, August 1, 2014 | 7:01 p.m. CDT
Members of the MU School of Medicine class of 2018 received their first white coats during at a ceremony at the Missouri Theatre on Friday. The annual event is meant to encourage new medical students to begin their education by upholding the highest values and standards of their profession, according to an MU news release.

COLUMBIA — The MU School of Medicine's Class of 2018 received a symbol of the medical profession Friday, and its members gave their word to conduct themselves ethically and altruistically during a ceremony at the Missouri Theatre Friday afternoon.

Kimberly Hoffman, associate dean for learning strategies, helped more than 100 students wriggle into a short white coat, a symbol of their time in medical school. Upon completion of their degrees, the students will receive a full-length coat that matches those of the faculty they will have, by then, studied under for four or more years.

Although the white coat ceremony is a relatively recent invention — originating in Chicago within the past three decades — MU's history of training physicians isn't. The university has offered physician training for more than 160 years and celebrated its first white coat ceremony in 1997.

This year's class of 104 is eight students larger than last year's due to efforts by the School of Medicine to increase class sizes and create a clinical campus in Springfield.

"The goal of the expansion is to improve health care and the economy in Missouri," said Linda Headrick, senior associate dean for medical education, who was quoted in an MU School of Medicine press release. "By increasing class size and creating a clinical campus in Springfield, the School of Medicine will be able to help answer a need for more physicians in both rural and urban areas of the state."

The school's class size is expected to grow to 128 by 2017. By then, Columbia's Patient Centered Learning Center and Springfield's clinical campus are scheduled to be opened.

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