White Coat Ceremony Highlights Class of 2016

Whitecoat Ceremony

OHSU School of Dentistry’s 75 second-year dental students began the school’s summer session by receiving their personalized white coats, signifying increasing responsibility for patient care. The Class of 2016 received their white coats on July 19, from their faculty group leader. Another one-third of the class was also coated by a mentor or dental relative, and seven from the Class of 2016 were coated by a dental school alumnus.

“The white coat symbolizes clinical excellence and serves to remind us of the privilege and duties we as dentists have to serve the public,” said Peter Morita, D.M.D. `86, associate dean for patient services. “There is always a need for compassionate, skilled, and ethical health care providers. We admire the dentist that is a leader in his or her community, and covet those who seek lifetime learning. We respect those healers who compassionately deliver quality care placing the patient’s needs above their own. Commit yourself to uphold the standards you so admire in your role models.”

The white coats were provided, in part through the Oregon Section of the American College of Dentists, along with a wallet card containing nine core values: Respect for patient autonomy, beneficence, compassion, competence, integrity, justice, professionalism, tolerance, and veracity.

Interim Dean Gary Chiodo, D.M.D. `78, F.A.C.D., reminded dental students to wear their white coats responsibly. “Remember what the white coat implies,” he said. “Keep it and your ethics wallet card together and always keep in mind that the white coat carries with it the requirement to act according to the core values expressed on the card. Your white coat is the outward symbol that you understand and accept these values and your enormous responsibility to practice them every moment of every day as part of this noble profession.”

Special guests at the white coat ceremony included Rick Asai, D.M.D. `81, regent of Regency 8 of the American College of Dentists Board of Regents; Mark Alder, D.M.D. `80, Alumni Association outreach committee chair; and Jim Smith, D.M.D. `81, Alumni Association president.

Dr. Smith recounted his first experience in providing a gold foil and how it taught him to connect with patients. “Remember that the jaw bone is connected to the heart bone,” he said. “Serve them both well.”

Second-year dental student Estrellita Gutierrez said the white coat ceremony made her first year of dental school rewarding and she loved sharing the moment with her family.

"The white coat is a symbol of all my hard work and it shows that I am worthy and responsible enough to work with patients in the clinic," said Estrellita. "My family was able to witness the ceremony, which made them feel a part of my experience at the OHSU School of Dentistry. My family was also able to meet the people I spend all of my time with, as well as the instructors who are working just as hard as students to expand our knowledge and help us become successful dentists."