"The whole art of teaching is only the art of awakening the natural curiosity of young minds for the purpose of satisfying it afterwards."
On Aug. 15, I will have the opportunity to speak to the incoming medical school class at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Two hundred men and women will be starting their first-year classes and I will have a few minutes to talk to them as part of the ceremony where they will receive their first white coat.
The “White Coat Ceremony”
has been alternately praised and criticized in academic circles. It is praised because it emphasizes the role of compassion and an appreciation for the Humanities in Medicine. The ceremony reminds the students that they have a responsibility of "caring" in addition to "curing." The ceremonies have been criticized, though, because they sometimes seem self-congratulatory. Worse, some worry that the coat gives some students an irreversible sense of entitlement. Medical student bloggers tend to find the quality of the ceremonies inconsistent
I have spoken to several medical students about their recollections of the White Coat Ceremony. By and large, the students are so animated about the entire process of starting medical school that any specifics about the speakers or the speeches quickly fade away. Maybe that’s a good thing.
Personally, I remember waiting with my classmates to be called up onto the stage where the University President helped us on with our coats and then the Dean shook our hands. If anyone made a speech, I certainly do not remember.
So, if you were in my position, what would you tell a roomful of first-year medical students? What do they need to hear just as they set out on their journey to become physicians? I look forward to your input. (Please select the Feedback link below.)
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Just tell stories. Tell the kind of things you write about. Don't tell them how to interpret them, just tell the stories. Usually the interpretation is plain enough.
- Rob Lamberts
Make mental health something you address with every patient. Please join consumers (those with mental illness that pay for doctors, couselors, day care centers, community support systems and medicines) in their quest to have ample insurance coverage to help them with their diseases of the brain.
- Anne Feyen
Why not encourage them all to start a blog? Explain to them that blogging is a valuable way to influence health policy and improve the healthcare system. Everyone has a voice - and even Secretary Leavitt is listening. Counsel them not to divulge private patient information, but to chronicle their growth as doctors, so that people can understand what medicine is all about (the good, the bad, and the ugly). And if any of them are particularly good writers - tell them Dr. Val would like to recruit them to post to (and maybe even host) Grand Rounds! :) My two cents...
- Val Jones
When my mother came to Froedtert as a patient I thought this was the best hospital for her to be in. I don't know if I was right or wrong in my thinking. I have some mixed emotions on this while I waited for answers to questions and rarely got to see a faculty doctor. As a teaching hospital I know that having residents on call is how business is done. But I lament over the fact that faculty physicians are not visible. I think that being a good mentor means to be an example, and you need to be accessible and on hand to guide those students and residents. I know at an academic institution it is overwhelming for faculty physicians to teach, conduct research, practice, and sit on committees.
As my mother's daughter my expectation is that the doctor, nurse and any other medical staff treat my loved one as they would their own mother, father, sister, brother or child.
Please remind them to treat the whole patient and not just the symptoms. I live with a chronic illness and I ask my doctors often "what else can I do to be well?" The doctors seem dumbfounded at times by the question.
Bruce, tell them that they are part of the healthcare team, the center of which is the patient and the family. Encourage them to always keep an interdisciplinary approach to caring for the whole person. But tell them in your own style, which embodies all of that. Good luck and enjoy the ceremony!
Please tell them that there is a human being they are treating who has a disease. Treat each patient as you would want to be treated, with care and compassion.
- Mary Fiegel
There is only one thing I would tell young doctors:
ALWAYS LISTEN. Do not only hear, but LISTEN. !
- Priscilla Paliwoda