UVM medical students receive their white coats

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Taking the first steps into the medical profession, more than 120 students at the University of Vermont’s Larner College of Medicine received their white coats Friday afternoon.  

“It symbolizes entering into the profession,” said Christa Zehle, interim senior associate dean for medical education. “Along with that comes a lot of responsibility.”

Physicians and other healthcare leaders presented the first year students their white coats. For many in the class of 2023, it’s a day they’ve been dreaming of and working toward since they were kids.

“I’ve wanted to get my white coat since I was 6 years old,” said Alex Jenkins.

 Jenkins said her diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes inspired her to join the medical field, so she can give back to others.

“I’ve always been surrounded by medical professionals and being in and out of clinics,” she said. “I really found something that I loved when I was there, caring for other people.”

For Justin Schulz, this is a second career. He was an air intelligence officer for the U.S. Marine Corps for 7 years before pursuing his passion for medicine.

“It feels very much like it did to put on my uniform for the Marine Corps for the first time,” Schulz said. “There’s a sense of gravity, but also inclusion.”

While he says it’s too early to commit to a specialty, Schulz said working in psychiatry is one of his interests.

“A lot of friends in the military face a lot of psychological issues,” he said. “It would be great to give back to that community.”

All of these students are joining the medical field at an important time, as the nation will see a shortage of up to 120,000 physicians over the next decade.

“It’s critical to be able to mentor,” Zehle said. “And then welcome as many students we can to be the best doctors possible for the citizens of the United States.

The White Coat Ceremony originated at Columbia University in 1993.

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