After years leading up to being accepted into the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center School of Medicine, the institution’s incoming students will now don the clothing of their future.

These students, who came from a variety of universities, sparked their journey as part of the School of Medicine Class of 2023 earlier today after walking on stage to receive the white coat that they will wear as medical students. The White Coat Ceremony took place at 3 p.m. on Aug. 2 at 1501 Mac Davis Lane in the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center Theatre.

School of Medicine Dean Steven Berk said 180 students took part in the ceremony. He said the students come from 65 different colleges, which includes 38 from Tech, 17 from the University of Texas Austin, 12 from UT Dallas, 12 from Texas A&M and more.

“This is their first week in medical school,” he said. “The White Coat Ceremony is very symbolic of starting a medical-school career, accepting all the high standards of professionalism. Putting on the white coat implies the acceptance of the commitment of becoming a physician and everything that that entails.”

The White Coat Ceremony started in the 1970’s, Berk said. In addition to this ceremony, he said the students, which have an average grade point average of 3.78, will take part in a scrub party where they will get their first set of scrubs and their stethoscopes.

“There are athletes, there are musicians, artists,” he said regarding the students’ alternate talents and successes. “We have individuals who’ve had other careers. We’ve had some who have had careers in the military, English teachers, physics teachers, missionaries, trainers.”

Whether it be accomplishments in research or other non-medical fields, Berks said these students have already achieved a lot.

The White Coat Ceremony may also be a time for celebration among the students and their families.

Felix Morales, associate dean of admissions for the School of Medicine, said the ceremony is a celebration of family.

“Family is often times the support systems for these students and their achievements,” he said. “They provide the guidance, the necessary love and passion that it takes them to become not only academically acceptable for medical school but also have the heart and the passion that it takes to become a physician.”

When an incoming medical student attends a White Coat Ceremony, Morales said they typically feel excited about the chapter they will start.

“It’s just excitement in regards to that first step in becoming a physician,” he said. “It’s about working towards having that M.D. behind your name. This is one of those small steps forward toward achieving that goal.”

Along with the progress of medical students at the HSC, the institution’s progress is another aspect one may consider.

Regarding the HSC’s 50th anniversary, Morales said he is proud of the progress that has been made since the institution’s establishment.

“I’m gleaming with pride,” he said regarding the HSC’s progress over the past 50 years. “There were doubts that this medical school could survive, much less thrive. For us to be here at our 50th year celebrating a new entry of students coming into our class is not only an achievement for Texas Tech but an achievement for the West Texas region.

In addition to the school pride felt, the White Coat Ceremony may incite a variety of feelings among the students and their families.

Some students may have been waiting for this moment for a long time.

Susan Sherali, incoming School of Medicine student from Amarillo, said she was very excited to receive a white coat and start her journey as a medical student. She said she wanted to pursue the medical field ever since she was little.

“This has been a moment that I have been waiting for such a long time,” she said. “It’s a dream come true.”

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