White Coats and...Feelings?
Posted on 23 September 2018
I was never a big fan of most school ceremonies—graduations, convocations, senior nights—sometimes they just seem a little over the top to me. I mean, take my college graduation, for example; what was the big deal? It was expected that I graduate from college…if I didn’t graduate we’d have a real issue, so why are we celebrating? It wasn’t like I had even gotten into med school; now THAT would be a reason to celebrate.
At first, I thought the same thing about White Coat Ceremonies (WCCs). We’re starting med school, great…but we aren’t doctors yet. Shouldn’t we wait until we’ve actually survived and graduated medical school to make such a big deal about it? My mom even said, as we were driving to Dayton to move into my apartment, “I didn’t have a White Coat Ceremony when I went to medical school…what’s the big deal?”
What’s the point of a WCC?
My mom and I both changed our outlook on these “over the top” ceremonies completely changed when I woke up the morning of my WCC. I actually feltsomething (and I am really, really not a touchy-feely type of person). Everything was suddenly becoming real. This was the first time ever that I felt like everything I had done in my life up until now was actually being rewarded. Working hard in science classes, studying for the MCAT, doing research, volunteering, shadowing–the ultimate goal was always to get into medical school…right?!
The WCC celebrates that achievement, and for the first time, I felt like I deserved this one—this ceremony has a lot of meaning.
The morning was spent meeting my classmates and talking to a panel of second year medical students about what we were about to experience in our first year. I felt like a freshman again which made me so excited because, just like the beginning of college, I am starting a whole new phase of my life. Medical school is THE phase that is going to lead me to that MD…how could I not be pumped about a ceremony that celebrates the beginning of this phase?
We processed onto the stage while families clapped for us. Some families were clapping for first generation med students. Sons and daughters in the audience clapped as they watched a parent walk into the stage. Husbands and wives applauded their spouses for beginning the path to their dream. [Meanwhile, my parents were clapping with excitement because all they were probably thinking was “Thank god Hannah made it here, this is such a relief, I can’t believe she actually did it.” (Lol you think I’m kidding but I’m not)].
In all honesty, though, it was a relief that I was able to get to this point. It wasn’t easy. If you know me or have read any of my blog, you will know that at time, I struggled. Sometimes I even thought there was a chance that I wouldn’t be able to get here. But I didn’t give up. And as I listened to the speeches about what it means to become a doctor I felt like I was really here for a reason. All of the hard work and struggles were worth it—I earned my spot on that stage with all of my classmates, who also had to work their asses off to get to this point.
So, was the White Coat Ceremony kind of excessive like I originally thought it would be? Nope, it was quite the opposite. Hearing my name called as I walked across the stage to receive my short white coat—the symbol of a student doctor—made me feel truly accomplished; all of my hard work was validated.
So, everyone: use my White Coat Ceremony experience as motivation; keep grinding towards walking at your own WCC because, when you walk across that stage, you’ll finally realize that it really was worth it.
Published by Hannah Levine, July 25, 2018