Meridian Press - Idaho med school's inaugural class marks white coat ceremony

For Arizona-native Anthony Durfey, getting his white coat begins a new chapter in his life.

“Getting that white coat means I got into medical school,” he said.

Durfey is one of 162 student doctors from the Idaho College of Osteopathic Medicine, or ICOM, who received their first white coat in a ceremony held at the Boise Centre East on Friday.

The white coat ceremony is designed to establish a psychological contract for beginning medical students that stresses the importance of compassionate care for the patient and professionalism, as well as scientific proficiency. The ceremony is a common practice in the medical field.

ICOM, the first medical school in Idaho, began classes Aug. 20 and hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its three-story building on Sept. 5.

Students will wear the coats while in clinical rotations during their third and fourth year in medical school. When they graduate, they will be given a longer white coat for their residencies, said Stephanie Dillon, spokeswoman for ICOM.

The physician’s white coat has been part of the profession since the 19th century. The concept originated from the operating room’s white coat, and has served as a visual symbol of the profession that stands for the need to balance excellence in science with compassionate caring for the patient.

Mehwish Chovdhry, first-year student doctor at ICOM, said the white coat was an important symbol, and she was excited for her family to see her coated.

“It makes me feel like I’m a medical student — like I’m on my path,” she said.

Several members of the medical community and ICOM staff spoke before the students were coated, including Tracy Farnsworth, founding president of ICOM.

Farnsworth said ICOM staff had faith in their inaugural class and students who wanted to go far would need to rely on their community.

“Remember things have a way of working out for people who work hard and have a good attitude,” he said.

LaToya Woods, ICOM assistant professor of family medicine, said the white coat had become a symbol of the medical profession.

“The time is now to recognize this great opportunity and responsibility,” he said.