CUPECOY–New medical students at American University of the Caribbean (AUC) School of Medicine capped their first day of medical school by gathering in the institution’s auditorium to participate in the traditional White Coat Ceremony.
Held at the beginning of each semester, the ceremony marks the start of students’ careers in medicine and symbolises a shared commitment to uphold the values and tenets of the profession.
“Today marks an important moment in your life, when you commit to becoming a physician,” AUC Executive Dean Heidi Chumley said. “It is also a promise to change yourself – to grow in more ways than you can possibly imagine right now. Because the study of medicine is a serious undertaking, we celebrate this important moment in your life with a ceremony.”
Members of AUC’s administration and faculty shared their own experiences as physicians during the ceremony and described the power and responsibility that come with wearing a white coat. Chumley encouraged the students to work as a team to achieve their goals and Senior Associate Dean of Medical Education Dr. Mark Quirk challenged students to take active roles in AUC’s community.
During his remarks, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Dr. Colin Michie called for students to be open to the growth and development they will encounter during their studies at AUC.
The event also included a keynote address by AUC alumni Olga Aleksandrova and Andrew Pleener, who met while students at AUC and married after graduating in 2014.
They were vacationing in St. Maarten in September when Hurricane Irma swept across the Caribbean and landed in Sint Maarten. After sheltering at AUC – in the very auditorium where this week’s White Coat Ceremony took place – they worked with students and faculty to set up a makeshift hospital on campus to provide medical care. The White Coat Ceremony was their first return to the island since Irma.
“As two AUC alumni, it is such an honour to stand up here amongst our future colleagues and deliver this speech,” Aleksandrova and Pleener said. “You, like us, were chosen to be here because you fit AUC’s culture. Over the next four years, you will learn how to become a leader, how to prioritise, take charge and be disciplined, and how to be ready for a crisis if immersed in one.”
New students were called on stage one by one to be cloaked in their first white coat. Parents and loved ones, many of whom flew in to Sint Maarten for the occasion, could be heard cheering loudly. After receiving their coats, students repeated the Modern Oath of Physicians and pledged to serve their patients with humanism and compassion.
The White Coat Ceremony topped a week of orientation and welcome activities at AUC. In addition to welcoming new students for the January 2018 semester, AUC greeted second and third semester students who were eager to return to Sint Maarten after studying in Preston, United Kingdom, during the September 2017 semester.
Cupecoy has experienced a resurgence of business since the medical school’s return. Students can be seen visiting their favourite restaurants and eateries, including Jules Bakery, BB’s Grill, Bar Code and Little Beirut.
The White Coat Ceremony reception was held at Porto Cupecoy.