Future Doctors to Receive and Don First White Coats at UA, July 27

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

TUCSON - More than 100 new medical students will receive and don their first white coats this week at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson White Coat Ceremony.

The event, held to honor the college’s latest class of medical students, will take place at 5 p.m. Friday, July 27, in Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd.

The White Coat Ceremony, a traditional rite of passage for entering medical students, signifies a student’s acceptance into medical school and his or her commitment to humanism in medicine. After being robed with their first coats, students will recite an oath acknowledging their dedication to patient care.

Alok Patel, MD, a member of the UA College of Medicine – Tucson’s Class of 2012, will deliver this year’s keynote address. Dr. Patel is a nationally recognized pediatrician who has assisted with health communication at ABC News, CNN and Medscape.

Following are a few of the impressive students that make up the Class of 2022:

Audrey Adkins is a 15-year emergency medical services veteran who served as an EMT and critical care flight paramedic. The native Tucsonan also is a mother who sculpts, welds and blows glass.

David J. Haddad is a first-generation college student who grew up in rural Mayer, Ariz. Once he becomes a physician, Haddad will seek to address community health issues affecting rural communities.

Justin B. Kaye is a Navajo student who earned the 2017 National Congress of American Indians Graduate Health Fellowship. Navajo healing ceremonies performed by his uncle and cousin attracted Kaye to medicine.

Vignesh S. Krishnaswamy is a former White House intern who worked on the Domestic Policy Council Health team and met President Barack Obama in 2015. The Mesa, Ariz., native aims to create an equitable health-care system as a physician.

Jacob Sorenson is a Jack Kent Cooke Graduate Scholar from Mesa, Ariz., who grew interested in global medicine after serving as a

church services missionary in

Mozambique for two years.

Maria Williams is passionate about serving vulnerable populations and increasing the representation of female surgeons. Surgery saved her life after a snowboarding accident as a teenager. Williams is from the Pacific Northwest.

Laura Wylie is a Cottonwood, Ariz., native who was inspired to go into medicine by her father, a doctor and UA College of Medicine – Tucson alumnus, and her mother, a registered nurse. Wylie graduated from the UA with a bachelor’s degree in physiology.

About the Class of 2022:

  • Applications received: 9,530
  • Class Size: 124
  • Female students: 66
  • Male students: 58
  • Underrepresented minorities in medicine: 42
  • Age range: 21 - 35
  • Arizona residents: 92
  • Average GPA: 3.68
  • UA alumni: 54

About the UA College of Medicine – Tucson

The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson is shaping the future of medicine through state-of-the-art medical education programs, groundbreaking research and advancements in patient care in Arizona and beyond. Founded in 1967, the college boasts more than 50 years of innovation, ranking among the top medical schools in the nation for research and primary care. Through the university’s partnership with Banner Health, one of the largest nonprofit health care systems in the country, the college is leading the way in academic medicine. For more information, please visit

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PHOENIX – Eighty one first-year students from the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix received the mantle of the medical profession Friday, July 20 when they donned their white coats for the first time during ceremonies at Symphony Hall in downtown Phoenix.

The ceremony marks the students’ entry into clinical medicine and is a rite of passage in their journey toward a health care career.

Nearly 700 family members and friends cheered as each new medical student put on their crisp white coat.

Guy Reed, MD, MS, Dean and Valley of the Sun Professor of the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix, told students that the white coat “signifies the beginning of a marathon journey of transformation from talented, carefully selected students into exceptional, skilled, highly educated and compassionate physicians who are committed to improving health and to alleviate suffering.”

The college in downtown Phoenix was established as a way to ease the growing shortage of physicians in Arizona. In just 11 years, 433 physicians have graduated.

This year’s class continues a tradition of excellence, as the 81 students were chosen from 6,784 applicants. Seventy-one percent of the Class of 2022 are Arizona residents. Their average overall undergraduate GPA was 3.77, with 20 students graduating from the University of Arizona and 21 graduating from Arizona State University.

Michael Dake, MD, Senior Vice President of University of Arizona Health Sciences, delivered an inspirational keynote address.

“If there is one word of advice I would offer ... it’s courage,” he said. “Be brave, engage when you’re not comfortable, speak out boldly, avoid the safe answer, ask the audacious questions. Because today, the winners are those who ask the deeply probing, relevant and future-focused questions.”

The alumni speaker, Allon Kahn, MD, graduated from the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix in 2013 and is a senior fellow in Gastroenterology and Hepatology at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona.

“Attitude is everything,” he said. “It is precisely at the most difficult times that your choice of attitude will distinguish you. Your attitude as a physician will be challenged every single day, I promise you. Medical knowledge and technical skill will come with time and training, but you can master your attitude from day one.”

First-year student Stephanie Christensen said she was feeling “overwhelmed with gratitude for my loved ones, appreciation for the opportunity to be here and humbled by this process.”

A graduate of the University of California San Diego, Christensen said the white coat symbolizes the importance of the relationship between the physician and the patient.

“That’s the most incredible thing about this calling,” she said, “the opportunity you have to make a difference in someone’s life and the responsibility and privilege that goes along with that.”

Tina Samsamshariat said putting on her white coat for the first time was humbling.

“It’s a long journey with many ups and downs, and to finally be surrounded by people who are going through it and who are going to support you – your classmates, faculty, family, and everyone – it’s really exciting,” she said.

Samsamshariat, who graduated from the University of California Los Angeles, said she applied to the College of Medicine – Phoenix because of the unique atmosphere – the community, the culture, the curriculum. “They really put their students first. You don’t feel like another number. This doesn’t exist anywhere else that I experienced.”

The White Coat Ceremony was initiated in 1993 at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. The widespread adoption of the event, currently practiced by 90 percent of medical schools, is endorsed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Beginning in 2007, the College of Medicine – Phoenix began holding the ceremony at the conclusion of first-year students’ first academic block, Introduction to Medicine.

In addition to their white coats, which were donated by 100 sponsors, students received a 3M Littmann Cardiology III Stethoscope from Banner University Medicine, the textbook “The Patient History: An Evidence-Based Approach to Differential Diagnosis” from District Medical Group at Maricopa Integrated Health System, and a Keeping Healthcare Human lapel pin from The Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

Go to: for profiles of several students.

About the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix

The University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix admitted its inaugural class of first-year medical students in August 2007. The College inspires and trains exemplary physicians, scientists and leaders to optimize health and health care in Arizona and beyond. The College is uniquely positioned to accelerate the biomedical and economic engines in Phoenix and the state by leveraging vital relationships with key clinical and community partners. For more information, please visit


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