On September 23, 2011, the 11th annual “Donning the Healer’s Habit” Ceremony was held at the R. Palmer Howard Amphitheatre, marking the meaningful occasion where the class of 2014 came together to recite their class pledge before family, friends, faculty and Osler fellows.
Dr. Benaroya, Interim Vice-Principal (Health Affairs) and Interim Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, expressed the symbolic gesture of donning the “healer’s habit,” the white coat, as a formal transition from layman to professional. “With every interaction and with every patient over the days and years of your professional lives, you will maintain the enduring appeal of the white coat as a symbol of hope and healing,” he said.
As keynote speaker, Dr. Jeffrey Turnbull, Ottawa Hospital Chief of Staff, co-founder of the Ottawa Inner City Health program and past-president of the Canadian Medical Association, delivered a poignant speech calling for students to go above and beyond the basic duties of physician and to constantly advocate for the health of their communities. He encouraged students to think about how growing social injustice leads to inequities in health. “We have an obligation as a profession to speak out against social inequality and the massive consequences this has upon the health of those who live in our communities,” he said.
Jacques Balayla, from the class of 2012, shared his reflections upon having donned his own white coat only two years prior. He spoke of how his coat had become tarnished and tattered but how each stain, crease and tear went beyond the mere fabric of the coat to the very core of what it means to be a physician. “Always remember, our coats may be short, like our knowledge as physicians-in-training, but it is white, like our untainted desire to heal,” he said, ending his speech by wishing the class of 2014 much success in the months and years to come. “May your white coats become just as stained, creased and torn as mine is so that you’re reminded every day of the honorable journey you’re embarking upon today.”
What does the White Coat mean to you? Some students respond.
Samantha Benlolo: “Patients are in a time of their most need and it’s very important to help them, comfort and heal them.”
Photo credit: Nicolas Morin