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White Coat Ceremony for the Keck School of Medicine of USC’s Class of 2023 Photos by Ricardo Carrasco III

Annual tradition

The Keck School of Medicine of USC held its annual White Coat Ceremony for first-year medical students on Aug. 9. The ceremony, which was established in 1993 to promote both professionalism and humanism in new medical students, is the symbolic beginning of their careers as medical professionals.

First Steps in Medicine

The event begins with a student and faculty procession to the Broad Lawn, followed by addresses from Keck School Dean Laura Mosqueda, MD, and Donna Elliott, MD, EdD, vice dean for medical education.

In addition to administering a warning — “you will work hard here” — Mosqueda encouraged the students to find empathy and humility in their practice, as well as to use their skills to care for communities and society as a whole.

“While the debate rages on among politicians and the American public about the best way to provide health care for all, or even whether to do so, your job will be to see every person you treat as deserving of care. That is the Keck way: to see everyone as deserving of quality, holistic health care,” Mosqueda said.

Keynote speaker Gregory Harlan, MD, MPH, associate professor of clinical pediatrics and medical education, shared wit and wisdom with the students and dispensed advice to guide them through their time at the Keck School.

Harlan, who also is director of the Introduction to Clinical Medicine (ICM) program, presented the Marvin E. Don Introduction to Clinical Medicine Faculty Achievement Award to Howard Cantwell, MD.

The award recognizes a current ICM faculty member who demonstrates the ideals and characteristics of a true academic clinician.

Students then lined up for the main event: the presentation of the white coats. Elliott was joined by Raquel Arias, MD, associate dean of admissions; Ron Ben-Ari, MD, associate dean of curriculum; and Karen Restifo, MD, JD, associate dean for student affairs, to hand each student their short medical coat, which they will wear for the duration of their training.

By The Numbers

This year’s class continues to be among the best and brightest students entering medical school today. Here are some statistics of the Class of 2023:

  • Median MCAT at Admission: 517
  • Average GPA at Admission: 3.7
  • Gender: 53% female / 47% male
  • Average Age at Admission: 24
  • Total Underrepresented in Medicine (UIM) 17%
  • States of Residence: 82% California / 18% Other States

*Statistics from Keck School Office of Admissions

The event closed with the students reciting the Hippocratic Oath.

The Keck School is the largest educator of physicians practicing in Southern California, with more than 1,850 full-time faculty members and voluntary faculty numbering more than 2,400. These faculty direct the education of approximately 800 medical students and 1,000 students pursuing graduate and postgraduate degrees. The school was ranked No. 30 in research in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report “Best Graduate Schools” rankings.

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