TouroCOM-Middletown Inaugural Class of 2018 Celebrate White Coat Ceremony
TouroCOM-Middletown opens its doors to its first class of students.
This past Labor Day, the inaugural students of the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine (TouroCOM)-Middletown Class of 2018 participated in their formal White Coat Ceremony, the culmination of a series of weekend-long celebrations commemorating the grand opening of the new TouroCOM campus in Middletown, New York.
Held in the Paramount Theatre, the ceremony drew 1100 guests, including students, parents, Touro faculty and deans, Middletown community members, and dignitary guests. Vice President of Touro College and University System, Rabbi Moshe Krupka, delivered the convocation address and recited the traditional Jewish blessing for physicians; and students heard speeches from Touro President Dr. Alan Kadish, Executive Dean Robert Goldberg, Provost Jay Sexter, COO Dean Jerry Cammarata, Dean Kenneth J. Steier, Dean Steven Jones, and other senior leaders. Formal congratulatory remarks were made by Mayor Joe DeStefano, local TV star and actor Aaron Tveit, and other Middletown officials.
The white coat ceremony, a common tradition among medical schools, formally signifies the transition from students’ pre-clinical to clinical studies. “It symbolizes the transfer of responsibility and professionalism for these future physicians,” says Dean Kenneth J. Steier, D.O. While many schools traditionally hold the ceremony at the end of students’ second year of medical school, the ceremony for TouroCOM-Middletown students was held six weeks after school commenced in order to formally launch the grand opening of the newly-minted Middletown campus, in addition to serving as a welcoming event for the new students and their visiting families.
Student speaker Nickolas Meier drew a standing ovation from the crowd as he described his experience living in the TouroCOM dormitories on campus in Middletown, a rural city of about 30,000 residents in Orange County, New York. “We’ve been accepted with open arms by a community that adores us,” he said. “They’ve taken us out for dinner, they’ve put new roads in… they’ve made our transition to Middletown life not just bearable but sincerely enjoyable.” He continued that “perhaps the greatest aspect of all is the opportunity to give back to a community that desperately needs us…there is a dire need for new and energetic physicians in this area.”
After reciting the Osteopathic Oath, the 135 student physicians marched across the stage as Touro deans formally robed each student in his or her own waist-length white coat, inscribed with the student’s name and the TouroCOM Middletown insignia.
Student physicians will don their new white garments during clinical rotations, lab practicals, and OSCEs (Objective Structured Clinical Examinations). While waist-length coats signify future these physicians’ foray into the professional field, long coats will be granted upon graduation at the end of their fourth year. “Students have reported that their white coats, hanging in their closets, give them the motivation and incentive to continue on their medical journey,” says Dean Steier.
As the first medical school to open in the mid-Hudson valley, TouroCOM-Middletown is located on the former site of Horton Hospital. Members of the Orange County legislature, who had previously extended their welcome to the administration, faculty, and students of TouroCOM-Middletown, congratulated the institution during the ceremony on its new campus. A series of elected officials from the Orange County legislature presented awards to Touro leadership in appreciation of Touro’s becoming “an important component in economic development” and expressed their hopes for positive collaboration in the future between the medical school and Orange County.
New student Daniel Sungrok Lee, who plans on pursuing his osteopathic degree as a general surgeon, was one of the student physicians receiving his white coat. He is also one of four class representatives elected by the student body to serve as a liaison between the inaugural class and the administration. Toward the end of the ceremony, he and another student representative, Christine Miller, stepped up to the podium onstage to formally present miniature white coats to two high-achieving Maple Hill Elementary School students, Amiya Remkissen and Brendan Wood, an act that signified future plans for academic mentorships between TouroCOM student physicians and the schoolchildren of Middletown. “It was definitely a meaningful, proud day for everyone there—not just for ourselves and our families, but also for the entire Middletown community at large,” said Lee.