Philadelphia – Penn Dental Medicine continued the annual tradition of the School’s White Coat Ceremony, this year gathering virtually to welcome the incoming Class of 2024 to the study of dental medicine on Tuesday evening, August 25. For these new dental students, accepting their white coats is symbolic of their commitment to the practice of dentistry and all its inherent responsibilities.
Nearly 530 concurrent viewers and more than 1,000 on playback joined the live stream of the event with Penn Dental Medicine’s Morton Amsterdam Dean, Dr. Mark S. Wolff, presenting opening remarks and hosting the event live.
“For the incoming class of students, the white coat is an important symbol for assuming a professional role as healthcare provider,” says Dean Wolff. “Even though we could not be together in person to celebrate this crucial step in every student’s journey at Penn Dental Medicine, the white coat still serves as a strong reminder of the responsibility and trust they will have with their patients.”
This year’s class of 136 students is made up of 95 women and 41 men, representing 25 states, the District of Columbia, and four foreign countries (Barbados, Canada, People’s Republic of China, and Vietnam). Chosen from an applicant pool of 1,992 students, this impressive group held an average GPA of 3.75 in undergraduate studies. Within the incoming class, 27 languages are spoken, and roughly 27 % of students have a relative involved in the dental profession.
Dr. Fred Ferguson, Assistant Director of Pediatric Dentistry at Interfaith Medical Center, Brooklyn, N.Y., gave the keynote address, speaking on the oral health/systemic health connection and stressing the leadership role dental care providers can have in the healthcare system and their patients’ overall health. Dr. Uri Hangorsky, Associate Dean for Student Affairs, also spoke, enthusiastically welcoming the Class of 2024, followed by each student introducing themselves in their white coats.
The ceremony concluded with the reciting of the Penn Dental Medicine Professional Pledge led by Dr. Olivia Sheridan, Associate Dean for Admissions and Professor of Clinical Preventive and Restorative Sciences.
This year’s White Coat Ceremony concluded the class’s orientation period, which took place August 10-18. While most of orientation was virtual, the class was divided up into small groups over that time to gather at the School for a socially distanced lunch to safely meet with the Dean and other administrators, receive their iPads and white coats, and record their introductions for the ceremony. Students coming from COVID-hotspot states or other countries, who quarantined for 14 days, received their white coats in a care package and recorded their introductions at home, ahead of the in-person portion of their orientation, which took place August 24.
The Class of 2024 began classes on Wednesday, August 19, and their first semester at Penn Dental Medicine will consist of a hybrid of in-person and virtual classes.