School of Medicine to Hold White Coat Ceremony in Macon


MACON – More than 60 first-year students in Mercer University's School of Medicine will receive their white coats and be welcomed into the medical profession Saturday at 10 a.m. in Willingham Auditorium on the Macon campus.

“The white coat ceremony is a tradition that marks the beginning of a course of transformative education leading to the title of physician. It implies the acceptance of great responsibility, trust, compassion and a call to service,” said Jean R. Sumner, M.D., dean of the School of Medicine.

Mark Hanly, M.D., chief of staff at Southeast Georgia Health System and chair of pathology at Baptist M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Jacksonville, Florida, will be keynote speaker.

Dr. Hanly graduated summa cum laude from the Godfrey Huggins School of Medicine at the University of Rhodesia in 1983. He subsequently trained in internal medicine and pathology before moving to the United States in 1989. 

In the U.S., he completed fellowships in infectious disease, pathology and gynecological pathology at the Medical College of Georgia, as well as a fellowship in oncology and pathology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas.

He worked in Saudi Arabia and Central Africa with the World Health Organization, before returning to the U.S. in 1994 to serve as director of surgical pathology at the Medical College of Georgia.

In 1997, Dr. Hanly moved to Brunswick and joined Southeastern Pathology Associates, where he served, among other roles, as regional medical examiner for 20 years. He has been an adjunct clinical faculty member at the Medical College of Georgia since 1997, and is professor of laboratory science at the College of Coastal Georgia. He chaired the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce from 2013 to 2017.  

Guy D. Foulkes, M.D., board certified orthopaedic surgeon at OrthoGeorgia and an alumnus of the School of Medicine, will cloak the participants.

“OrthoGeorgia is a proud, longtime sponsor of this ceremony that marks a very significant milestone in the lives of future physicians,” said Dr. Foulkes.

In addition to support received from OrthoGeorgia, SunTrust provided support for the School of Medicine's white coat ceremonies in Macon and Savannah. The Savannah campus ceremony was held last Saturday with Dr. Hanly also serving as its keynote speaker.

“On behalf of the SunTrust Foundation, we are proud to continue the long history of supporting education in our local communities in ways that directly align to SunTrust's purpose of 'Lighting the Way to Financial Well-Being,'” said Steve Slade, senior vice president of SunTrust Medical Specialty Group. “Our partnership with Mercer University's School of Medicine continues that long tradition and helps this dedicated group of future healthcare professionals take a step toward financial confidence.”

The white coat ceremony was designed by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation as a way to welcome new medical students and set clear expectations regarding their primary role as physicians by professing an oath.

Today, the ceremony emphasizes the importance of compassionate care as well as scientific proficiency. The first white coat ceremony took place in 1993 at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. Since then, more than half of the nation's medical schools have had some form of white coat ceremony.

About the Mercer University School of Medicine (Macon, Savannah and Columbus)

Mercer University's School of Medicine was established in 1982 to educate physicians and health professionals to meet the primary care and health care needs of rural and medically underserved areas of Georgia. Today, more than 60 percent of graduates currently practice in the state of Georgia, and of those, more than 80 percent are practicing in rural or medically underserved areas of Georgia. Mercer medical students benefit from a problem-based medical education program that provides early patient care experiences. Such an academic environment fosters the early development of clinical problem-solving and instills in each student an awareness of the place of the basic medical sciences in medical practice. The School opened a full four-year campus in Savannah in 2008 at Memorial University Medical Center. In 2012, the School began offering clinical education for third- and fourth-year medical students in Columbus. Following their second year, students participate in core clinical clerkships at the School's primary teaching hospitals: Medical Center, Navicent Health in Macon; Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah; and The Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The School also offers master's degrees in family therapy, preclinical sciences and biomedical sciences.