School of Medicine to Hold White Coat Ceremony in Savannah


SAVANNAH – Sixty first-year students in Mercer University's School of Medicine (MUSM) will receive their white coats and be welcomed into the medical profession Saturday at 11 a.m. in Savannah.

The Savannah campus white coat ceremony will take place in the newly renovated Mercer Auditorium on the first floor of the Mercer University Medical Education and Research Building at the William and Iffath Hoskins Center for Biomedical Research on the campus of Memorial University Medical Center.

“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.

Bonzo Reddick, M.D., M.P.H., chief diversity officer and associate dean for diversity and inclusion for MUSM's Savannah campus and associate professor of family medicine, will be keynote speaker. William F. Bina, M.D., M.P.H., FAAFP, dean of MUSM's Savannah campus, will cloak the 60 participants.

“Although these students have years of study ahead, this white coat ceremony will instill in them the importance of professionalism and empathy in medicine as they enter the medical community,” said Dr. Bina. “It represents the public acknowledgement by the students of the responsibilities of the profession and their willingness to assume such obligations in the presence of family, friends and faculty.”

This year, SunTrust has provided support for the School of Medicine's white coat ceremonies in Savannah and Macon. The Macon ceremony will be held next Saturday.

“SunTrust is committed to helping people achieve their financial goals; it is at the forefront of everything we do around the communities we serve,” said David Camden, president, SunTrust Bank, Savannah Region. “The SunTrust Foundation shares this commitment and is proud to continue its support of these deserving and dedicated students at Mercer University's School of Medicine as they begin their path 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.

MUSM's new medical education and research facility at Memorial was dedicated in April. The $18 million Savannah campus expansion, which began in October 2014 and was completed in December 2015, includes renovation of approximately 26,500 square feet of classrooms, offices, research labs and library space in the Hoskins Center, as well as construction of 30,000 square feet of new space for additional classrooms, exam rooms and study areas. This expansion allows for a 50-percent increase in M.D. student enrollment – from 160 to 240 students – in Savannah, equaling the number of M.D. students on the Macon campus.

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 Midtown Medical Center and St. Francis Hospital in Columbus. The School also offers master's degrees in family therapy, preclinical sciences and biomedical sciences.

Kyle is senior director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he serves as editor of the Mercerian alumni magazine and News@Mercer e-newsletters, and he coordinates hometown and university news releases.