The White Coat Ceremony:
WAUSM’S May ’23 CLASS MARKS THE BEGINNING OF MEDICAL SCHOOL
Western Atlantic University School of Medicine’s (WAUSM) fifth cohort was welcomed to medical school by WAUSM and Bahamian leadership at a distinctive White Coat Ceremony at the Grand Lucayan in Freeport on May 13, 2023.
A diverse class that is 45% male and 55% female, WAUSM’s May ‘23 cohort hails from the United States, Canada, and The Bahamas and includes a USAF veteran who was a nuclear weapons specialist and shadowed military physicians; an RN with 10 years’ experience; a pediatric ICU researcher; and several first-generation college students.
In her delivery of the keynote address, Dr. Aubynette Rolle, Managing Director for the Public Hospitals Authority, The Bahamas, said, “Being a doctor is not simply a job. It’s a life’s work. The acceptance of a white coat today is an outward demonstration of a solemn and personal commitment.”
As she welcomed the students to the medical profession, Dr. Nancy Selfridge, Assistant Dean and Chair, Medical Education, and Professor, Clinical Education, noted, “Heart is why you’re here and it transforms you so you can inevitably do the hard work of being a physician for the rest of your life. Welcome to medical school – the hardness and greatness of it all.”
The White Coat Ceremony is traditionally conferred on new students during their first year of medical school. The event marks the beginning of medical students’ journey toward achieving the long white coat when they graduate and become MDs. According to the AMA Journal of Ethics, the ceremony also symbolizes professionalism, caring, and trust, which students must earn from their patients.
With a worldwide shortage of MDs specifically in the US, Canada, and The Bahamas, WAUSM is the culmination of a dream its leadership team – which is comprised of elite academicians and administrators hailing from prominent US and Caribbean medical institutions – had to create a world class medical school that is well positioned to train outstanding, patient-centered physicians.
In addition to President and Chief Medical Officer Joseph Flaherty, MD, who previously served as executive dean of the University of Illinois College of Medicine (2004-2011) and dean and chancellor for Ross University School of Medicine (2011-2017) – retiring from both bestowed with the prestigious honor of Emeritus – WAUSM’s leadership includes Executive Dean and Chief Academic Officer Paula Wales, EdD, who is among North America’s foremost experts in both accreditation standards and curriculum development; and Campus Dean and Professor of Anatomical Sciences Laura Welke, PhD, an established leader in the fields of anatomy and neurobiology.
Together with their faculty and staff, WAUSM’s leaders are breaking new ground in medical education by delivering a forward-thinking, hands-on curriculum that is both student-centered and outcomes based.
In her welcome address to the students, Mrs. Anne Marie Davis, First Lady of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, noted that she is keenly aware of the level of dedication, focus, time, and energy that is required to succeed in this highly competitive and critical academic discipline.
“I congratulate you and thank you for taking on this weighty responsibility and the Hippocratic Oath to do everything in your mortal power to preserve, protect, and prolong the sanctity of human life when and where possible,” she said.
Inaugural Student Government Association President Milena Ghiday offered these words of encouragement to WAUSM’s incoming class: “As you embark on this journey remember to be kind, curious, and never give up on your dream. The world needs more physicians like you, and I cannot wait to see the amazing things you will achieve in the years to come.”
Watch the full ceremony and see other WAUSM videos on our YouTube channel!