November 09, 2016
After UC, GOLDs wear White
UC GOLDs all over the world have realized their dream of earning a white coat. For medical school students, going through a white coat ceremony indicates a beginning and an end. It’s a symbol of the hard work, achievement and sacrifice required to make it to medical school while also recognizing the heavy responsibility and challenging times ahead. It is a privilege, with only 0.3% of the U.S. population being afforded the opportunity to wear it, and a dream for many. That dream is currently being realized by large groups of Ursinus alumni through lessons learned at UC coupled with a whole lot of perseverance.
A little Help from UC
Ursinus is known as a pre-med destination, with 37% of graduates going into the medical and health professions. According to UC GOLDs who have received their white coat, this reputation is well-deserved. “The demanding curriculum at Ursinus really prepared me for the transition to my graduate courses,” said Brooke Mitchell’12, currently ranked first in her chiropractic class at New York Chiropractic College. “UC provided me with a more than solid foundation for all of my basic science courses.”
While graduate courses often include credit heavy curriculums, Caitlin Callahan ’13, currently in veterinary school at St. George’s University, agreed that “the level of rigor of UC classes in an excellent segue into graduate level work.” Some, like Ahmed Elghawy ’11, now a resident physician at Mount Sinai Medical Center, even felt that the sciences were harder at Ursinus than at med school!
Beyond the classroom, many UC GOLDs felt that it was the time management learned at a small school that has helped them keep their heads above water in graduate school. “Being a student athlete at UC taught me how to manage my time better than any experience I’ve ever had,” said Natalie Massari ’13, who played soccer at UC. “Time management is an essential skill when you are in pharmacy school.”
Stephanie Belaires ’14, a current student in Columbia University’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program, agreed. “I came into school with not only the knowledge, but also the time management required of such a rigorous program,” she said. “I think a lot of other students came in after undergrad without learning the skill of time management.”
Receiving their White Coat
UC Gold’s described receiving their white coat with the kind of reverence that comes after four years of undergraduate work, an intensive application process, and the infamous MCAT. That feeling of achievement is compounded by the bond of responsibility. “It’s a special feeling to receive a white coat and recite the Hippocratic Oath with all of the physicians present at the ceremony,” said Adam McGonigle ’13, a pre-med student at Drexel College of Medicine. “You get a sense of something important beginning and I’ve never felt anything else quite like that before.”
Others used words like “surreal,” “a mixture of excitement and nervousness,” and “memorable” to describe the first time they got to put on their coats. The best way for many to describe it was as a dream come true. “It was one of many times over the past few years I’ve had to pinch myself because my dream was finally coming to fruition.”
Not Done Yet
While most of the GOLDs receive their white coat in the first year or two of graduate school at an official ceremony, rotations and more coursework still lie between them and wearing the coat every day. The coat serves as a huge reminder and motivator for many of our UC GOLDs. Mitchell currently has her blue coat, which she says keeps her working towards and thinking of the white coat on a daily basis. Belaires said that while receiving the white coat at the beginning of her graduate school experience was rewarding, “I realize I still have a lot to accomplish. Looking back now I realize how much responsibility you receive when getting that white coat.”
At the end of the day for these amazing alums, the result is worth all of the PowerPoint lectures and heavy textbooks. “Receiving my residency white coat was amazing because it was the culmination of all my studying, the long nights, the stress and test taking,” said Elghawy. “At the same time, it felt like the beginning of my true calling in life, like my key to that door that I have always wanted to open but never could.”
- Tim Jordan ’13