ANN ARBOR, Mich. — On July 24, 170 first-year medical students took the first step on their journey of becoming doctors, marking the return of one of the medical school’s grandest traditions.
U-M was not able to host its annual White Coat ceremony in 2020 due to the pandemic. With COVID-19 and vaccination numbers improving in Michigan, the incoming Class of 2021 gathered in-person to kick-off their M1 Launch — an orientation and official welcome to the school they will call home for at least the next four years.
In alignment with Michigan Medicine guidelines for indoor, in-person events, this year’s ceremony was a closed event only for participating students and the few faculty/staff needed to execute the ceremony.
Per tradition, the ceremony’s “calling of the class” was comprised of students walking onto the stage at Hill Auditorium to announce their name and hometown. After they crossed the platform, each of them was presented with a white coat and stethoscope, commemorating entry into their future profession. These items also signify the importance of honor, accountability and the trust patients will place in them as they embrace their new roles as aspiring doctors.
The students also took the U-M Medical School White Coat Pledge, created by members of the school’s chapter of the Gold Humanism Honor Society. The society is named for Arnold P. Gold, M.D., a leader in ensuring that health care providers receive training in providing compassionate, patient-centered care. The White Coat Ceremony itself is a tradition started decades ago by Gold.
Daniel T. Cronin, M.D., an assistant professor of hospital medicine, delivered the keynote address. In addition, Medical School Dean Marschall S. Runge, M.D., Ph.D., Interim Executive Vice Dean for Academic Affairs Brian J. Zink, M.D., Interim Associate Dean for Medical Student Education Steven E. Gay, M.D., M.S., and Interim Assistant Dean for Admissions Deborah R. Berman, M.D., made remarks.
The incoming class was holistically selected from an astounding 10,624 applicants, of which 455 earned interviews. The class is diverse and exceptional, as 49% are non-traditional students (with two or more years removed from their undergraduate experience), and 11% said they are the first in their family to earn a bachelor’s degree. Nearly 40% of the class hails from the state of Michigan.
The incoming first-year students will hit the ground running. Soon, they will be immersed in a curriculum that will prepare them to be leaders and change agents in health care. From day one, they will work to understand the science of human health and illness in the clinical setting, and they also will build their skills as critical thinkers and collaborative future leaders when they work with other students from the U-M’s various health professional schools.
“We are so pleased to be welcoming this class, who applied and will be matriculating to this medical school with the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Steven E. Gay, M.D., M.S., interim associate dean for medical student education and associate professor of internal medicine in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. “They are a wonderful class, with their diversity of experiences and their resilience in light of the unpredictable changes they have been through.”
Some notable facts about this year’s incoming class:
- Students hail from 29 U.S. states, with 65 of the 170 students from Michigan.
- 47 students attended U-M as undergraduates, 17 matriculated from 11 other schools in Michigan, and 106 come from 54 out-of-state institutions.
- Students come from many different fields, including the biological and non-biological sciences, social sciences, humanities, the arts and engineering.
- 27 students entered the medical school with degrees in a double major.
- 15 students will pursue a combined M.D./Ph.D. degree through the Medical Scientist Training Program. Additionally, three students who already hold dental degrees will train in oral and maxillofacial surgery.
- The average student age this year is 25 years.
To see the full 2021 entering class profile, as well as additional statistics about the medical education program at U-M, please visit: https://medicine.umich.edu/medschool/education/md-program/our-community/students-faculty/medical-student-demographics.