White Coat Ceremony 2019

The School of Medicine welcomes the Class of 2023 to the MCV Campus

M00 Deal,CliffClifford L. Deal, M'00, H'05, White Coat Ceremony keynote speaker

They hail from 21 states and Canada, rural towns and big cities. They've been diving with sharks and raised bees in their own backyard. They've set up free clinics in Nicaragua, served in the Peace Corps and taught in Detroit Public Schools.

The experiences the Class of 2023 bring to medical school are varied — and extraordinary. All led the 184-member class to the Aug. 2 White Coat Ceremony in pursuit of their common goal to become physicians.

"It's the first step in your transformation into becoming who most of you have dreamed of becoming for years," said keynote speaker and surgeon Clifford L. Deal, M'00, H'05. "You won't be normal anymore. You will have special access into the hearts, minds and bodies of your patients. It's an honor to be invited into the private lives of your patients and to help them through their struggles."

A member of the first class to participate in the White Coat Ceremony tradition at the VCU School of Medicine, Deal encouraged the students to treat the white coat, a symbol of compassion and honor, as a gift.

"It’s an incredible honor and privilege to serve in this capacity," said Deal, president-elect of the Medical Society of Virginia. "There are no words powerful enough to describe the joy, sorrow and responsibility that you experience as you take care of patients and their families. If you don’t remember anything else, know this: I absolutely love what I do and feel blessed every day to do it every day.

"My heartfelt response when a patient thanks me for helping them or thinking perhaps that I saved their life is to say: 'It’s been my privilege to participate in your care.' To the class of 2023 — it’s been my privilege to participate at the start of your journey and welcome you into the profession of medicine."

The Class of 2023 is extraordinary

Before they came to medical school, they …

Went skydiving, scuba diving, and diving with sharks.
Traveled to 22 countries, 6 continents and a Buddhist monastery.
Volunteered with the Peace Corps and in a Bolivian orphanage for children with disabilities.

We’ve got an Eagle Scout, EMTs and medical scribes. Plus a student who’ll be the first doctor in their family.
A health policy researcher and a high school science teacher. An amateur beekeeper and a bookkeeper for local businesses.
A professional poker player, a personal trainer and a part-time school bus driver.

They’ve set up free clinics in Nicaragua, tutored at the county jail and taught vacation bible school.
Driven a motorcycle on road-trips around Vietnam.
Hiked active volcanoes in Indonesia and went swimming in a Central American volcano. ... Another swam to an iceberg.

They’ve had close calls, surrounded by a family of hungry black bears fishing for salmon in the Alaskan wilderness, on safari in South Africa with lions, leopards and buffalo, and photographing Atlantic puffins in Newfoundland.

A swimmer competed in six different countries and an ice dancer’s team placed third at Internationals.
A level 10 gymnast, the head coach of a high school field hockey team and the red belt men's collegiate Taewkondo national champion.

Improv comedians and musicians on the jazz trombone, piano, cello and guitar. The snare drummer of a marching band, the drum major of another, and a student who marched in Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade.

A pair of bikers: one built an electric bicycle that can go 40 mph; the other spent two years cycling 18,000 miles from Alaska to the southern tip of Argentina.

One makes delicious gumbo and another is perfecting her Italian macaroons. Someone else’s last name rhymes with ravioli.

They’ve come a long way, including one student who’s driven in a two-door Honda on a 10-day, cross-country Route 66 road trip from Orange County, California, to get to the MCV Campus in time for Roll Call!