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The White Coat Ceremony: A rite of passage for medical students

For medical students, the white coat ceremony is a rite of passage, where students “take up the mantle” and begin their journey as medical professionals.

Students taking part in the ceremony are formally cloaked in the iconic white coat, entrusting them with upholding the highest ethical and professional standards.

Earlier this month, St. George’s University (SGU) in Grenada held its 10th annual White Coat Ceremony, hosted by Northumbria University in the United Kingdom as part of the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program.

More than 90 students from countries across the world such as China, Thailand, Ghana, and Nigeria were presented with their White Coats by medical professionals, including Mala Rao, Professor and Senior Clinical Fellow at Imperial College London; and Marios Loukas, Dean of Basic Sciences and Professor at SGU.


(L-R) Rosalind Howells, Baroness Howells of St Davids, OBE; Andrew Wathey, Vice Chancellor and Chief Executive of Northumbria University; Daniel Kwesi Appeah, St Georges University student and Calum N.L. Macpherson, PhD, DIC Vice Provost, International Development

The White Coat Ceremony is a long-standing tradition that began in 1993 at the College of Physicians & Surgeons of Columbia University, and is now used at many universities around the world. It symbolises the students’ induction into the medical profession, and affirms their obligation of service to others.

The ceremony is significant not just to each incoming class, but for all who attend including: St. George’s University faculty, its staff, students’ families and friends; and the White Coat Ceremony keynote speakers who, twice a year, inspire first-term students with heartfelt words of wisdom and personal reflections.

Students in the program will complete their first year of studies at Northumbria University, with the remainder of their degrees being completed at SGU’s campus in Grenada, and clinical studies in the US and at NHS hospitals in the UK.

A graduate of the program, Nadia Solomon, couldn’t be happier to see so many new students embarking on the same journey she took back in 2014.

Speaking of her own experience, Nadia said: “It feels like yesterday that I began my medical degree, and I had a fantastic experience studying in Newcastle.

“Being in the UK also gave me the opportunity to travel around Europe. Overall, it was a truly unique, hands-on learning experience that I wouldn’t trade for anything!”


Nadia Solomon during her trip to Kenya.

Her participation in the program allowed her to complete numerous short courses in addition to her main degree work, as well as securing additional clinical exposure at some of the local hospitals in Newcastle.

Nadia added that some of her proudest achievements came as a result of activities she took part in while at Northumbria, including working on two anatomy projects and a study which was presented at the 2016 Ultrapath Conference in Portugal.

“I had no idea when I first started my degree that my research and studies would eventually be presented to hundreds of fellow medical professionals all over the world,” she said.

After graduating from the St. George’s course at Northumbria, Nadia got the opportunity to spend the summer completing a short course in Kenya and doing research with the African Medical and Research Foundation in Nairobi.

“A fantastic advantage of being a KBT Global Scholar is that these international short courses are immediately presented to us within the first week of school,” said Nadia, who is currently completing a Master’s degree in Tropical Medicine at St. George’s in addition to her medical degree. 

Since 2007, over 1,050 students have taken part in the program. 

All images via St. George’s University, Grenada 

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