Fourth-year veterinary students now have their white coats in hand, ready to start hands-on clinical rotations in the Veterinary Medical Center on July 6.
Students came onto campus to pick up their white coat at the Veterinary Medical Center before starting rotations. They were greeted by the College of Veterinary Medicine’s professional programs staff members.
Virtual White Coat Ceremony
Students typically mark their transition from the third to fourth year by attending the White Coat Ceremony, where they are coated by a veterinarian who has influenced their career. This year, because of COVID-19, the White Coat Ceremony went virtual with a recorded presentation for students and their families.
Breanna Lincoski, a fourth-year veterinary student, said she watched the virtual White Coat Ceremony with her family back home in Pennsylvania.
“It was nice to celebrate this milestone with family. My brother found an old lab coat and he coated me,” said Lincoski. She said the virtual ceremony made her feel appreciated and thought it was well put together.
Still honoring the importance of receiving the white coat
College leaders didn’t want to just mail out white coats; they wanted to try to make it a special occasion and set students up for success.
“This is a major milestone event for our students and difficult to substitute with an online experience. Since the students could not attend the event in person and receive their white coat, we wanted to make the gift bags as special as possible,” said Caroline El-Khoury, Assistant Dean of Student Success.
Not only did students pick up their white coat, but they also received a small gift bag that included goodies like mints, granola bars, face wipes, a badge clip and practical necessities like a face mask and face shield. Inside the pocket of their white coat was a handwritten note from the alumnus who sponsored the gift of the student’s white coat.
Fourth-year student Mary Elizabeth Swiger felt excited to be picking up her white coat.
“It’s all starting to feel real. We’re back on campus and finally staring at the clinic,” she said.
Ben Leahy, Class of 2021, agreed that picking up his white coat and starting clinical rotations is “one step closer to becoming a veterinarian.”
To make the unique white coat pickup experience successful, college leaders worked together, collaborating with teams throughout the University.
“The items in the gift bag were brainstormed by those who planned the White Coat Ceremony in the past. The idea to include face wipes, mints, and other items was shared from students and staff from the College of Nursing,” said El-Khoury.
Originally, the event looked much different but needed to be scaled back for logistical challenges.
“We discussed options, like a drive up pick up or a clap in, but the logistics were not feasible with our parking situation and the challenge of pulling faculty and staff out to the Veterinary Medical Center for a clap in,” said El-Khoury.
Since March, the Veterinary Medical Center has been operating without fourth-year students, meaning they are unable to accept as many appointments as usual. With fourth-year students back, they can get the hands-on clinical practice they need to graduate and the hospital can get closer back to normal operations.
All College of Veterinary Medicine students, faculty and staff are wearing masks, tracking their temperatures daily, and practicing social distancing when possible.