Newswise – The 64 students who make up the inaugural class of Florida Atlantic University’s new Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine will receive their first white coats at a ceremony today to symbolically confirm their commitment to the profession of medicine.

During the ceremony, faculty from the College will cloak the students with a white coat – the pre-eminent symbol of physicians for more than 100 years. The ceremony, a time honored tradition, will take place in the Barry and Florence Friedberg Lifelong Learning Center on the Boca Raton campus. At the conclusion of the event, the students will recite in unison an “oath” they have collectively written, which will serve as a code of conduct they are committed to following throughout their education and as physicians after medical school.

“This ceremony marks a significant milestone for our first medical students and for Florida Atlantic University,” said FAU President Mary Jane Saunders. “As they embark on their journey toward becoming physicians, this cloaking marks the start of a new beginning and a commitment to a profession distinguished by its selflessness and dedication to helping others.”

The event program will include remarks from FAU President MJ Saunders; Dr. Michael L. Friedland, vice president for medical programs and dean of the Charles E. Schmidt College of Medicine; Dr. Richard Reynolds, dean emeritus of the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School; and a keynote presentation by Dr. Edward C. Halperin, dean of the School of Medicine, professor of medical education and professor of radiation oncology, pediatrics and history at the University of Louisville.

“The white coat is a vivid symbol of the medical profession for physicians and medical students alike and serves as a constant reminder of the privilege we have to care for patients,” said Friedland. “For physicians in training, this ceremony provides a moment to reflect upon the life-long dedication to provide the best of care for their patients.”

The College of Medicine’s inaugural class comes from all walks of life, but they share the drive and passion to become physicians and help patients. Ranging in age from 20 to 34, the newly minted medical students represent most of the major colleges and public universities in Florida and 20 colleges around the country, including Princeton, Cornell, Vanderbilt, Duke, Notre Dame, Brigham Young, Wellesley and University of California.

Fifty percent are women – a little higher than the national average of 49 percent. Nearly 80 percent of the incoming class is from Florida. Although 75 percent of the class majored in traditional pre-med subjects, the class is also made up of students who have non-science majors such as environmental engineering, Asian studies, English, French, philosophy, business, finance, economics, art history and math.

Six members of the class have degrees beyond the bachelor’s degree, including one who is a lawyer. Two of the students have extraordinary research backgrounds with multiple publications in peer-reviewed journals and have been accepted to the joint M.D./Ph.D. program in conjunction with Scripps Florida.

A symbolic event introduced in 1993, the White Coat Ceremony was established after a group of distinguished physicians, medical educators and community leaders formed the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. The Foundation concluded that the beginning of a student’s journey into medicine is the best time to influence standards of professionalism, humanistic values and behavior. More than 100 medical schools in the United States now hold White Coat Ceremonies. The Arnold P. Gold Foundation has provided generous support of FAU’s White Coat Ceremony and is providing each student with a “Humanism in Medicine” lapel pin.