Dear medical student colleagues:

This past week was a great one, for each of you as well as for VCU School of Medicine. On Monday, we welcomed you as our newest colleagues. Throughout the week, we told you – with great pride – about the remarkable legacy and today’s powerful presence of VCU School of Medicine, culminating on Friday with our White Coat ceremony. The White Coat ceremony was such a joyous event. We were all privileged to hear the simply outstanding talk by Dr. Kim Sanford. Kim is a great example of how VCU’s medical school produces “the best and the brightest” doctors who are well equipped to make great contributions in their careers. Kim certain has made significant contributions to healthcare and medical education. Her talk at Friday’s White Coat ceremony was inspirational, moving, and highly informative. It was also a pleasure to hear the Musicians on Call Michaella Montana (Class of 2021) and Robert Moy (Class of 2021) with their welcoming rendition to the class.

We hope that you enjoyed the week as much as we did. The first week of medical school is very, very special.

As was echoed by all who spoke at the White Coat ceremony, we are simply delighted that you have chosen the profession of medicine. Our profession is an awesome privilege and with it great responsibility. Essential to that responsibility is being a lifelong learner, and you begin that journey in earnest now as you eagerly consume new knowledge about the body and mind, which is available today at an unprecedented pace. We hope that our training will prepare you well and that over time you will take your new knowledge, using your many gifts to not just repeat what others have done, but rather you will ultimately lead us to find better ways to treat and prevent disease.

As you take these first steps toward a career in medicine, you also will already now be viewed as a leader in any circle you find yourself; in fact, the drive and personality that brought you to medical school means you already are. Please always be mindful of this role as you represent our school in the Richmond community and beyond. As we recited together on Friday our Hippocratic Oath, lead your life and practice your art with uprightness and honor. Additionally, norms in our society and our healthcare community are changing and unprofessional behaviors, rude or sexist or racist remarks are no longer being tolerated. As well as being role models in your behaviors, we also ask that you “speak up” if you see-hear-experience unprofessional behaviors from others during your training with us. In this, we all grow together and will make our school an even better place to train at. Thank you.

We know that each of you have worked so hard to get to medical school. Your family and our medical college are very proud of you. Our White Coat ceremony, with the symbolic donning of your white coats, was a formal recognition of each of you and of all your very impressive accomplishments to date. For sure, you are talented colleagues. All our faculty, staff, and other trainees stand ready to help you build upon your talents and prior accomplishments now in this exciting next stage of your careers as you diligently pursue your training to become great doctors. You know as well as we do that the hard and dedicated work – and the fulfillment – has only just begun.

It was also a great joy to celebrate your success with your families on Friday last and to meet so many parents. Please feel free to also share this letter – if you wish – with them so that they know of our commitment and culture at VCU School of Medicine.

We look forward to your future successes as our medical students and our entire team will be privileged to assist you during your training at VCU.

Our very best to you always,

Susan DiGiovanni, M.D.
Senior Associate Dean for Medical Education 
and Student Affairs
Peter F. Buckley, M.D.
Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs, VCUHS