Dear Colleagues-Friends,

Over the past two weeks, we’ve welcomed 188 new medical students into our community and the legacy of our School of Medicine. Like all the amazing doctors who – now as alumni – have come before, the Class of 2025 is an outstanding and talented group of junior colleagues with bright futures ahead of them. We thank Dr. Michelle Whitehurst-Cook and her admissions team for helping us recruit our most diverse class of medical students ever despite the challenges of a virtual recruitment season.

Our newest M1s took many different paths to get here, having numerous experiences and adventures along the way, including climbing the highest peak in the Rocky Mountains, creating a charcuterie and luxury picnic company, staffing the security team for Kevin Hart’s Irresponsible tour, providing wellness checks and COVID-19 tests on L.A. County’s Skid Row and surviving the bite of an Australian paralysis tick. You can learn more interesting facts about the multitalented Class of 2025 on our website.

After more than 18 months without in-person events and celebrations, we were excited to be able to welcome our newest medical students for an in-person Roll Call and orientation this year. Their energy and enthusiasm were nothing short of heartwarming, and they have brought an additional spark of vitality back to our campus.

The two-week Transition to Medical School program culminated this past Friday with the White Coat Ceremony. In front of family, friends and our School of Medicine community – including 500 people participating via livestream – our newest medical students committed themselves to compassionate patient care by reciting the Declaration of Geneva, a contemporary version of the Hippocratic Oath, and took up the mantle of the medical profession, embarking on what we know will be one of the most challenging and rewarding journeys of their lives.

“The coat and what it represents in our society can be an important tool to amplify your voice and to make a difference,” said Dr. Mark Ryan, associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, during his keynote remarks. However, it can also be “a point of separation from patients, a point of disconnect from the folks that we take care of.”

He encouraged the students to enjoy the “symbolic” and “transformational moment” of donning their white coats for the first time but to not “let the coat – symbolic or real – become a barrier” as they continue through their medical education and clinical practice.

We are grateful to Dr. Ryan for his inspirational speech and for sharing with us the insight he has gleaned from his years as both a student and a highly accomplished faculty leader within our institution. We also greatly appreciate all the faculty in attendance and the great staff that helped make this wonderful event a success. A recording of the ceremony, including Dr. Ryan’s outstanding remarks, is available on our website.

For our impressive group of new students, the hard and dedicated work – and the fulfillment it brings – has only just begun. All of us, as faculty, residents, staff and alumni, stand ready to help guide and support them in realizing their full potential as great doctors and instruments of change within our communities.

Please join me in welcoming the Class of 2025 to our VCU School of Medicine, and thank you for the role you will play in their individual and collective successes.

With all good wishes,

Pter F. Buckley, M.D.; Dean, VCU School of Medicine; Executive vice President for Medical Affairs, VCU Health System