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Barbara Ross-Lee, DO, Delivers Virtual White Coat Ceremony Keynote to Incoming DO and MD Students

July 08, 2021

Since 1993, the White Coat Ceremony has been a rite of passage for first-year medical students, one that emphasizes the importance of humanistic healthcare, right from the start of their education.

“Humanistic, empathic, patient-centered care is at the heart of the osteopathic philosophy,” says AACOM President and CEO Robert A. Cain, DO. “The White Coat Ceremony is a beautiful, symbolic reminder to medical students that they are embarking on a career of service to their patients. Every time a student dons a white coat from that point forward, they can think back to the commitment they made, and must continue to make every day, to put patients first.”

Barbara-Ross-Lee2021_200pwBecause the COVID-19 pandemic caused in-person White Coat Ceremonies to be cancelled last year, the Gold Foundation offered keynote recordings to medical and nursing schools to share during virtual ceremonies. The Gold Foundation is continuing that practice this year and selected Barbara Ross-Lee, DO, the first African American woman to serve as dean of a US medical school and the first osteopathic physician to become a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy fellow, to deliver the keynote address for all medical students.

“Dr. Ross-Lee is an inspiration to so many, not only within the osteopathic profession, but to everyone in medicine, to everyone who hears her story,” says Patricia Sexton, MS, DHEd, Gold Humanism Honor Society advisory board member and associate dean of curriculum and family medicine professor at the A.T. Still University of Health Sciences Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. “Her empathy, leadership, vision and strength make her the ideal person to address new medical students as they begin their education and training after a year when we all were reminded first-hand how important empathy is in healthcare.”

“Since 1993, the White Coat Ceremony has been an early and essential touchpoint of humanism on the path of a physician,” said Dr. Richard I. Levin, President and CEO of The Gold Foundation. “Today, as we are facing the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and racism, the White Coat Ceremony is all the more relevant in emphasizing the importance of the human connection in healthcare.”

Colleges of osteopathic medicine may request access to Dr. Ross-Lee’s keynote address, along with her introduction by Dr. Cain, for inclusion in their White Coat Ceremonies by filling out a form on the Gold Foundation’s website. Additional resources, including ceremony and media materials, signage and logos and virtual ceremony examples, are also available through the Gold Foundation’s White Coat Ceremony Toolkit.