Source: McMaster University
White Coat Ceremony begins journey to becoming a doctor
October 11, 2006
by Suzanne Morrison,
October 11, 2006
First year medical students in the Michael G. DeGroote School of medicine
received a symbol of their role as medical learners last night, as they took
part in McMaster University's fourth annual White Coat Ceremony at the
Hamilton Convention Centre.
Before 550 guests, members of the Class of 2009 individually received a
white coat--considered a "rite of passage" into the medical profession and
This year's 149 new medical students represent a wide range of ages and
backgrounds. In age, they vary from under 19 to almost 40. They hold diverse
undergraduate degrees: accounting, arts, biomedical computing, business
administration, education, engineering, history, social work and the
sciences. Nine Aboriginal students are in the first year class. There are 90
women and 59 men.
Yasser Hayat, 36, originally from Pakistan, said people are always asking
him why he chose McMaster. "I tell them it's the other way around--McMaster
chose me," said Hayat, who holds a bachelor of agricultural economics from
the University of Agriculture in Pakistan and masters of business
administration from the University of Technology Sydney, Australia.
His son, Ahmad, 5, and daughter, Hadiya, 2, cheered him on at last night's
ceremony along with his wife, Tooba.
Sara Sandwith, 24, from Victoria, B.C., was just a teenager when former
McMaster physician, Dr. Steve Martin, advised her to become a doctor--and to
specifically enrol in McMaster's medical school--after witnessing her
bedside skills first-hand in a medical clinic attached to an orphanage in
Haiti. She holds a bachelor of arts in geography with a minor in marine
biology from the University of British Columbia.
The first year medical students received the "Crested" coats as gifts from
the Faculty of Health Sciences Alumni Branch Council, Medicine Program
Office and Faculty of Health Sciences Alumni Office.
University President Dr. Peter George told them through perseverance they
had earned the chance to wear the white coat and urged them to accept their
social responsibilities as global citizens, as other McMaster medical
graduates have done in the past.
Dr. James Orbinski, he said, helped found the Canadian branch of Medecins
sans Frontiers (Doctors Without Borders) and in 1999 accepted the Nobel
prize on behalf of the organization. Dr. Eric Hoskins became the youngest
recipient of the Lester B. Pearson Peace Prize and founded War Child Canada,
a non-profit organization raising awareness and support for children
affected by war.
Dr. John Kelton, Dean and Vice-President of the Faculty of Health Sciences
and Dean, Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine, reminded the students they
are entering the medical profession in its most difficult period--with
science evolving so rapidly it's impossible to stay current, and a health
care crisis where patients, just minutes away from the White Coat ceremony,
are waiting up to 10 hours in hospital emergency departments for care.
With all that lies ahead, Dr. Kelton asked the students to never forget this
moment nor lose sight of the ideals which drew them into medicine.
Before the White Coat ceremony began, guests enjoyed classical piano
selections by sisters and second-year medical students Richelle and Rebecca
The evening closed with class president Patricia Farrugia, who asked the new
medical students to think about the physicians they want to become, and the
lives they will touch.