White Coat Ceremony Celebrates Beginning of Medical School Journey

Aug. 18, 2023

White coats were presented to the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry Class of 2027 during the traditional ceremony that marks the beginning of medical school for these future doctors.

The 18th annual Robert L. & Lillian H. Brent White Coat Ceremony was held in the Larry and Cindy Bloch Alumni and Advancement Center on Aug. 18.

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The 105-member class was addressed by Mark B. Taubman, M.D., who is stepping down at the end of this year as Dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, Senior Vice President for Health Sciences and CEO of URMC. He recalled the very first ceremony held just after he became a faculty member at SMD, saying it is a pleasure each year to celebrate the arrival of students who are eager to make a difference.

“This is really special and something I will miss,” Taubman told the Class of 2027. “It not only represents the beginning of our medical school academic year, it also represents the start of your journey into medicine.” Taubman cited the important responsibility of physicians, including embracing the Rochester-based biopsychosocial model that espouses treating patients as more than their medical issues, giving consideration to other factors patients are facing in their lives.

Class of 2027 recites their code of conduct after receiving their coats.


Fourth-year medical student Malayna Hocker took the stage and shared her thoughts and those of classmate Bianca Duah, who could not be present, about their first three years as students and what the Class of 2027 can expect over their upcoming four years.

“You will make mistakes and you will struggle at times,” noted Hocker, an Arizona native who was an elementary school teacher prior to medical school. “You will not be perfect and this OK. You can still be an incredible healer.” During the difficult moments, Hocker advised, remember why you started your journey.

“This is the moment you are welcomed into a family of healers,” she said warmly. “You are what the world needs.”

Keynote speaker Joel Pasternack, M.D., Ph.D.

The keynote address was delivered by Joel Pasternack, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine, department of Emergency Medicine. As a member of the SMD Class of 1980, he recalled mentors and experiences that shaped his career.

“Your white coat symbolizes a commitment to learning medical science,” Pasternack said. He called medical school a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from a wide range of specialists and gain valuable experiences during clinical rotations.

Medical care is a priority for society, he said, and physicians are privileged to provide that care and build trust with patients and their families.

The ceremony included David R. Lambert, M.D., senior associate dean for Medical Student Education; Flavia Nobay, M.D., associate dean of Student Affairs; and Christine Hay, M.D., associate dean of Admissions.

2027 Class Facts 

105 Students

  • Average age: 24
  • From 26 states, with NY, MA, CA together accounting for the top 3 spots;
  • 15 born outside the U.S.
  • Know 23 languages, including ASL








Find more photos on the University’s Facebook and Instagram pages and the video of the ceremony here. The event was captured by University of Rochester photographer J. Adam Fenster and University of Rochester Medical Center video producer Douglas Buckley.