Cooper Medical School of Rowan Univerisity
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CMSRU welcomes new med students at pandemic-era White Coat Ceremony

Cooper Medical School of Rowan University (CMSRU) continued its annual tradition of welcoming new medical students into the profession of medicine during a special White Coat Ceremony, pandemic style. 

The event brought 110 new students and a few speakers together in Rowan University’s large concert hall for the event where they could follow physical distancing recommendations, while parents, friends, loved ones, faculty and fellow students watched the event virtually. More than 500 viewers tuned in for the livestream of the event on YouTube, and it’s already been viewed more than 3,000 times just a few days after the event.

“Under normal circumstances, this concert hall would be packed with family and friends, and the stage would be filled with all our deans and departmental chairs, but these are not ordinary times,” said Annette C. Reboli, MD, dean of CMSRU, in her opening remarks. “The pandemic should not tarnish the pride and joy you feel on this this special day.”

Ali Houshmand, PhD, president of Rowan University, and Anthony Lowman, PhD, were on hand to welcome and congratulate the newest medical students on behalf of the entire Rowan community and the Rowan Board of Trustees. The Rowan leaders lauded the students for their courage and dedication to join the noble profession of medicine.

The keynote speaker for the Class of 2024 White Coat Ceremony was Stephen Trzeciak, MD, MPH, professor and chair of medicine at CMSRU and chief of medicine at Cooper University Health Care. Currently, Dr. Trzeciak’s research is focused on a new field called “Compassionomics”, in which he is studying the scientific effects of compassion on patients, patient care, and those who care for patients. He is co-author of the book: Compassionomics: The Revolutionary Scientific Evidence that Caring Makes a Difference

He explained to the students that in medicine, compassion matters in meaningful and measurable ways. He and his co-author, Anthony Mazzarelli, MD, JD, associate dean for clinical affairs at CMSRU and co-president of Cooper University Health Care, evaluated more than 1,000 scientific abstracts and more than 200 original scientific research papers, concluding that clinical excellence and compassion yield the best outcomes for patients.

Following Dr. Trzeciak’s presentation, students were called one-by-one to the stage by Erin Pukenas, MD, assistant dean for student affairs, where they donned their white coats in front of the camera and their classmates. Each student also received a new stethoscope, presented by Steven Ross, MD, compliments of the Medical Staff of Cooper University Health Care. Special notes from family, friends, faculty, and fellow students were placed in the pockets of the white coats to congratulate, encourage and inspire the new students as they begin their medical school journeys.  

Associate Dean for Admissions William Kocher, MD, then led the first-year students in reciting the Hippocratic Oath for the first time. All physicians, present or watching the livestream, were invited to stand and renew their commitment by participating in the recitation as well.

CMSRU’s new first year medical students join the 319 students already attending the school, bringing enrollment to 431 students.

The first White Coat Ceremony was held in 1993 at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and has become an important rite of passage for first year medical students at schools throughout the United States.