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July 1, 2013 - Class of 2015 Medical Students Receive White Coats at Annual White Coat Ceremony
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The University of South Alabama College of Medicine held its annual White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2015 at the USA Mitchell Center on June 22, 2013.

During the ceremony, rising third-year medical students were cloaked with their first white coats, the traditional dress of physicians for more than 100 years.

William Tucker, a USA medical student who received his white coat at the ceremony, said that for him, the event marked the completion of two challenging years in the classroom and marked a step closer to helping patients.

“It's an honor to wear the white coat, but it also shows that we have a duty to the patients we will soon see,” said Tucker.

Tucker has a unique USA connection, being the son of Dr. Allan Tucker, Louise L. Locke professor and chair of pathology, and Jean Tucker, USA senior university attorney.

“I was familiar with the USA College of Medicine because of my dad, but knew little outside of the pathology department,” said Tucker. “Having my dad as a teacher was strange at first, but then I realized how cool it was to learn from him. I would not trade that experience for anything.”

For USA medical student Anna Christensen, who came to USA after serving as a nurse practitioner in the U.S. Navy, the white coat symbolizes the basic science knowledge and experience she has gained over the past two years at USA.

“This ceremony symbolizes the next step. I now have more autonomy,” said Christensen. “Before, I was always covered by someone else’s decisions on top of mine. In this ceremony, we are saying we will make the best decisions we can in the effort to help people.”

In addition to being a full-time medical student, Christensen is married with an 18-month-old child. “We’ve made it through pretty well so far,” she laughed. “The accomplishment of these past two years is something I’m really proud of.”

For USA medical student Serena Nimityongskul, the ceremony is a time to recognize the support she has received over the past two years. “The faculty and staff have shown me such love, support, and encouragement,” she said.

Along with Tucker, Nimityongskul also has a family member in the USA College of Medicine faculty. Her father is Dr. Nimityongskul, professor of orthopaedic surgery. “Having a family member on the faculty here has made a huge impact on my academic career,” she said. “The USA community has always treated me like family, and it is for that reason I am standing here today.”

Dr. Maryella Sirmon, a USA College of Medicine alumna, was the keynote speaker at the ceremony.

During the ceremony, the students took the Medical Student Oath, a promise to uphold the human aspects of medicine, such as sensitivity, compassion and respect for patients.

“The White Coat Ceremony means so much to me,” said Nimityongskul. “Declaring my good intentions to serve and heal the community, by taking the Medical Student Oath, is a huge milestone in my life that I will remember forever.”

The students will begin their clinical rotations and start interacting with patients on July 1.

To view all photos from the event, click here.

To see local news coverage of the event, click here and here.

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