The early years of my life were spent in Providence, RI, where I was born, and at the age of seven I had the opportunity to move to Ghana. Both of my parents are originally from Ghana, and growing up they instilled a deep sense of pride in my heritage in me. As the child of a doctor, during my time in Ghana, I was always acutely aware of the deficiencies in the healthcare system. Despite its best efforts, the system was unable to provide quality care to large segments of the population. Right in front of me people were dying from preventable and treatable illnesses. Guided by my faith, I immediately knew that I wanted to go into medicine so that I could one day make a positive impact on my second home. Coming to Georgetown University, I had the opportunity to grow in my devotion to God through my Catholic faith, and pursue my interests in a way which reflected my desire to serve others. After my years at Georgetown's undergraduate and graduate schools, I am so excited to be a member of the Georgetown School of Medicine's Class of 2020, and thrilled to call it home for another 4 years.
To heal someone is to love them as well, and I am reminded of this every time I don my white coat. As a physician healer it will be my responsibility to help to the best of my ability any and every person that walks into my office, and by extension to love them for the simple reason that they too are human. As people, threats to our health are often the scariest, most vulnerable moments in life. I can imagine no greater joy or honor than to be able to help people turn these moments of fear into a lifetime of happiness through better health. My white coat reminds me of the incredible faith that society has placed in me, entrusting me with this immense privilege of serving its people. In return, I promise to dedicate myself wholeheartedly to improving the lives of all of those in need. I promise to listen and to understand the needs of my patients in order to help them achieve their desired outcome. And more than anything, I promise to love every single one of them, and to let this love guide me in applying my skills towards creating a healthier, happier world for all.
My white coat is a reminder to speak up against the inequities that pervade not only our healthcare system, but most aspects of our society. As future physicians, we made a promise to listen and heal to the best of our abilities, but are we fulfilling this oath when we send people back to the same conditions that made them sick in the first place? To me, becoming a doctor means understanding the socioeconomic factors that lead to differences in health between populations and working with communities, especially minorities, to address social injustices that lead to disease.
Each time I put on my white coat, I am reminded of my role as a patient advocate. Because medicine is ever-changing, it will be my job to provide wisdom and advise on the best care possible. Such a career of lifelong learning and education requires courage and persistence to not only protect my patients but also advance the field of medicine forward. Bearing a white coat comes with immense responsibility to never settle for less.
This phrase and question from the story of Cain and Abel has always resonated with me because I have always been my brother's keeper, literally. My brother was born with Spina Bifida, a congenital birth defect, and I, along with my family, was responsible for helping him with his daily care. Living with my brother taught me what it means to be responsible for another's well-being and more importantly how much families, friends, and communities do to support the ones they love. My white coat means taking responsibility for the care of all in the community I serve, ensuring that patients and their support systems have the power to live fulfilling lives. I do so compassionately and humbly. All who come to me are my family and will be treated as such. Together, as a team, we can be each other's keepers and support each other through our journeys in life.
We can all identify with at least one aspect of humanist ethics – the common good, knowledge, the scientific method, human rights, human dignity, creativity, and compassion, to name a few. It’s through these interconnected principles that we can learn to identify with those around us and achieve ultimate fulfillment in life for ourselves and others. Personally, many of these values have matured in response to my grandfather’s life story, as he was an immigrant from Croatia who was a victim of well-known and, equally, overlooked tragedies of the Second World War. I’ve developed a humbling and deeply respectful temperament, knowing that I wouldn’t be where I am today without his sacrifice and compassionate nature. Were he alive today, I know he would be proud of me for wanting the best in life for others. Ultimately, that’s all he wanted for his friends and family.
While growing up in Albania, I watched the women in my family cultivate a life around their husband and children. There were no opportunities for them to receive an education or employment. After immigrating to the U.S., I fiercely pursued education as a way to empower myself. I am proud to stand here in my white coat and vow to work tirelessly for the next four years so I can become a doctor. I owe it to myself of course but also to the women in my family who might never know what its like to sail your own ship.
As a United States Army Officer, I swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. When I received my white coat, I swore another oath, the Hippocratic Oath. Both of these are grounded in service; to the nation and to my patients. To me, the white coat is the physical embodiment of both of these obligations. Every time I put on the white coat, I am reminded of a solemn promise shared by all men and women who serve a purpose greater than themselves.
My white coat symbolizes the beginning of my journey into the healing profession of medicine. By being guided by cura personalis values, I hope to become an understanding compassionate physician. I am blessed to be a part of the team of students, physicians, friends, and family that support my dreams. One of the most rewarding aspects of becoming a physician is the ability to make a positive impact on patients by establishing trusting relationships. My white coat serves as a reminder that I must strive to provide patients with the best quality of care possible. As a future doctor, I wholeheartedly dedicate myself to serving others and promise to wear my coat with humility and honor.
During the White Coat Ceremony, I couldn't help but smile as I looked around at my future colleagues. We were welcomed into the world of medicine and received our team uniform: the white coat. Although our paths to medical school all looked different, these uniforms now unite us as we step forward together. My white coat - and those of my classmates - means I've joined the healthcare team and will work with physicians, nurses, technicians, and most importantly, my patients, to cultivate a collaborative environment where healing prevails.
How does it feel to swim across a lake when you can barely see the other side? Ask a medical student. She will tell you that every stroke is a deliberate one. Most of her actions, seemingly ordinary, will fade from her memory when she emerges from the water on the other side. What will remain is the greater feat of conquering the lake. Mastering each stroke along her journey, she strives to transform into someone worthy of her white coat.
My white coat is a symbol of trust. Every time I put on my white coat people not only look at me differently, but also treat me differently. It’s only been my first month of medical school and a patient has already disclosed intimate details about their life to me. A patient has already trusted me with things that they were not comfortable telling their closest friends and family members. What have I done to earn the trust that comes with wearing this white coat? I think I was given this coat because someone believed in me, someone believed that I can be trusted to show every patient I encounter empathy, compassion, and give each and every patient the care they deserve. Every time I put on my white coat it is a reminder of the trust I was given and it is a new opportunity to show I am worthy of this trust.
Father Fitzgibbons, President of Regis University, once told me that as graduates of a Jesuit university, the diploma we receive does not actually belong to us. Certainly we have earned it, but the degree we're awarded and the skills and knowledge we've acquired truly belongs to those who we will serve with it. The education we have received belongs to the lives that we will touch, the people we will impact. I have kept this design in my heart and I vow to take the amazing gift of my education to lead positive change in the world around me.
My white-coat ceremony came with mixed emotions: the uncertainty of how I would handle the rigorous curriculum, to the nervousness of meeting new peers, and the joy of finally embarking on the journey that will allow me to obtain the education and training in preparation to handle and care for the lives of people. Classes started and days went by quickly. It was already the fourth day and I was striving to adjust; the most challenging aspect was deciding on how I would go about my studies. Here, I was reminded that this was no longer in college where you could cram two days before an exam and would do just fine; it was a time to study and apply. When I arrived home from classes that day and looked around my room, I concluded that I was right after all. The post-it notes spread out all over my study table, my highlighted notes on sickle cell disease laying everywhere, and my giant pathology textbook propped open on the floor, all pointed to the same conclusion; all I am learning, is in the hopes of one day being able to utilize that information in caring for others. I immediately realized that my actions, thoughts, grades, and even study techniques must all speak in accordance, as they will be translated into how I will treat my patients in the future. This white coat represents the duty I have, to assure the well-being of others.
Jennifer Gyamfi Holiday
My dream of becoming a physician began when I was in high school. My experiences inspired my passion for women's health and led me to begin envisioning myself one day providing great health care and advocating for my patients. When I wear my white coat, I'm reminded of the years of hard work and dedication it took for me to be here, and humbled by the prospect of patients entrusting me to journey with them on their way to wellness and healing. My white coat is a symbol of heartfelt compassion for my patients and belief in myself in turning my dreams into my reality.
When I put on my white coat, I am reminded that I am committed to a profession that has the unique ability to strengthen patients both physically and emotionally. My white coat will allow me to use my knowledge to understand the complexity of the human body, while also offering hope to the human soul. Patients hope that their needs will be understood and that one day their devastating diseases will be curable. As a future physician, I am humbled knowing that I am entrusted with the responsibilities of caring for patients and offering them the hope that they need to move past their illnesses. My white coat is a privilege to wear and serves as a reminder that I must strive to provide patients with the hope, the strength, and the cure.
To me, cura personalis applies not only to the patients we see, but to the global community in which we all live. When I wear my white coat, I am reminded of the commitment that I’ve made to promoting public health and caring for others at the population level, both locally and abroad. It is a symbol that allows me to take my education from the classroom and apply it to the hospital setting and beyond. It reminds me that I have the ability and the responsibility to contribute to a global movement toward better health.
Each time I put on my white coat, I make a conscious commitment to go beyond 100% for everyone who seeks my help. I understand wholeheartedly that a patient is more than meets the eye. I will see someone’s mother or father, brother or sister, someone’s precious child, and someone’s best friend. Bearing the responsibility and honor of this white coat, I will embody compassion and tenacity to ensure not only physical, but emotional and spiritual recovery for my patients. Regardless of the long hours and the demanding schedule that accompanies being a physician, I will strive to serve every person with 110% of my attention, knowledge, care, and love. Always.
My white coat means “trust” because I want my patients to feel comfortable enough to confide anything to me and trust that I won’t be judgmental. I want my patients to trust that I will always be honest with them, to tell them the truth even if the truth is difficult. I want my patients to trust that I will always be compassionate and respectful towards them, even if they are angry or lashing out because they are afraid. I want my patients to trust that I will always go above and beyond for them, giving them the best care possible by listening to all of their concerns and by putting their interests first.
Every time I put on the white coat, I am reminded of all of the sacrifices and hard work that was done to get to this point in my life. This white coat is not just a symbol of healing but also a symbol of true responsibility. The responsibility to serve my fellow men and women and aid them in attaining positive health outcomes, which has to be done through compassion and empathy. This is a commitment and a life filled with service to others in need. It is a true blessing and privilege to be given the opportunity to pursue my medical dreams.
The first time I looked at myself in the mirror wearing my white coat I felt the weight of responsibility - a responsibility to be decisive and precise, knowledgeable, trustworthy, and compassionate for my future patients. In the white coat I looked as if I already possessed these skills, and the reality of the image that the white coat portrays sank in. Regardless of what specialty a student may ultimately choose to practice, we as doctors (and student doctors) will have the responsibility to be a source of strength for our patients. Whether celebrating successful treatments or guiding patients and their families through an end-of-life transition, a precise choice of words can convey a physician's authenticity of emotional expression and a clear understanding of the diagnosis: imparting physical, mental, and emotional strength to both patients and their families. This strength will aid the patient through treatment or recovery, and if recovery is not possible, give the patient a sense of peace - for it is not only in fighting, but also in acceptance and understanding, that there is victory over that which strives to break one's spirit and demoralize one's resolve.
The white coat is a symbol, a uniform that I will begin to grow into. It's not magical. Over the years, I must earn the respect that the coat brings. It will take countless hours of reading, listening, practicing, and healing for the coat to fit.
My great grandfather died in World War II, my grandfather enlisted in the Army during the Vietnam War, my father was a pilot in the Navy for nearly 30 years, and my brother is currently serving as a Naval Surface Warfare Officer. Because of this, I have a deep admiration for our military and a sincere appreciation for the immense personal sacrifices our servicemen and women make every day to ensure our country’s safety and freedom. Earning my white coat means that I have taken the first step toward becoming a physician in the medical corps, where I will have the distinct opportunity to provide care for these brave individuals.
At first I was tempted to write this coat means "I can do it!" But the more I thought about it, the less that statement resonated with me. I didn't get here alone, nor will I be able to make it through alone. This coat is worn by me, but it is representative of an entire community alongside me: a community of physicians, students, parents, friends, and family, passionate and ready to serve.
Service to my community. Service to my country. As a member of the DC community since 2010, I have strived to give back to those that live in this city. As an undergrad and SMP at Georgetown I worked with residents of Anacostia and other disadvantaged neighborhoods. As a medical student and future physician, I will continue to serve. Beyond the local community, I will proudly serve my country as a Second Lieutenant in the US Army - a country that has given me so many opportunities and allowed me, the son of immigrants, to earn this coat. Everyday I wear it I am reminded of the opportunities I have been so fortunate to have.