White coats, and the journey begins

More than 500 people—students, parents, siblings, grandparents, friends and faculty—gathered at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts on July 21 to welcome 225 new students into the Joe R. & Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine.

Robert Hromas, M.D., FACP, dean, and other faculty gave counsel and wisdom to members of the Class of 2022, who donned their white coats and recited the Hippocratic Oath, signifying their pledge to compassionately and ethically treat patients. The students embarked on the rigorous four-year medical school journey that, in testing their resolve and mettle, will produce superior physicians for Texas and the world.

The Long School of Medicine in September marks the 50-year anniversary of the day it opened for classes in the South Texas Medical Center.  The Class of 2022 is the 50th complete class for the school.

“It is fitting that on your first day of medical school, you should receive your white coat, which is an enduring symbol of professional competence, dedication and, to many who see it, hope,” said William L. Henrich, M.D., MACP, president.

“The white coat is the most recognized symbol of medical healing,” Dr. Henrich added. “Reduced to its basic elements, it is merely white cloth and some lettering. It is inanimate and, in some settings, pedestrian. But like most symbols, when worn by a dedicated physician it conveys a promise, really a prayer, that healing, comfort and even a cure is attainable.”

Dr. Hromas, dean of the Long School of Medicine, began his address by recognizing the founding faculty of the School of Medicine who were seated on a second-story balcony overlooking the audience.

Dr. Hromas also recognized Dr. James “Larry” Holly, who graduated nearly 50 years ago and is a past distinguished alumnus.

“Medical students, you are going to have several thousand lectures during your medical school career. This is your first one,” Dr. Hromas said. “The first lesson of medical school is this: Teach yourself. What do I mean by that? I mean that becoming a physician is an inside-out endeavor. You have to learn the heart of a physician, the heart of healing, before you can learn the intellect of being a doctor. Become aware of your inner strengths. Self-assess continually, in real time, what your character truly is. Then self-correct. This is the first and hardest lesson to learn.”

He urged students to be patient-centric, not egocentric. The need for self-esteem can hurt judgment and limit patient outcomes. “Have enough confidence in yourself to mistrust your experience,” Dr. Hromas said.

Ashok Kumar, M.D., Distinguished Teaching Professor and associate chair for administration and finance in the Department of Family & Community Medicine, delivered the keynote address as the recipient of the 2018 Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine for Faculty Award.

Founding faculty at the White Coat ceremony included (from left) Dr. James Hadnott, Dr. James L. Story, Dr. Anatolio Cruz and Dr. Marvin Forland.

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