The ceremony is considered a “rite of passage” for new medical students who will be taking their Hippocratic oaths four years from now.
“It is so much more than receiving a piece of clothing. The real significance of the white coat is what it represents — professionalism and empathy in the practice of medicine,” Doug Taylor, associate dean and director of records and admissions, said ahead of the ceremony that concluded orientation week.
Courtney Suiter, 23, said she was honored to be selected among such a large pool of Quillen applicants. The Clarksville native said she’s ready to take the first step of her medical career at the college her husband Daniel Suiter is attending as a third-year medical student.
“I’ve always had an interest in medicine, and I’m really interested in the field of pediatrics,” she said. “I feel very honored. We all feel almost like we’re not supposed to be here — it’s almost surreal. It’s very humbling.”
When Suiter finishes her medical studies at Quillen, she will join other graduates of the medical school, like the college’s dean, William Block.
“It’s been a great week to see them start, to see the energy that comes back with a new group of students and to welcome them to our campus,” Block said before he and 2009 Quillen alumnus and Air Force Maj. Joshua Combs cloaked each of the new medical students.
Each year, Quillen alumni donate $100 or more to support a white coat for a student and to help fund the reception after the ceremony. In addition to the gifts, students received donors’ notes of encouraging messages along with their white coats.