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UTRGV Medical School White Coats' Rite of Passage

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EDINBURG – The lobby outside the University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley auditorium is filled with anxious students clasping on to white coats over their arms, but these aren’t just any white coats.

They are special coats that signify an end of a journey and the introduction of another.

An announcer stands at the podium in the auditorium, “I’m pleased to welcome you to the UTRGV School of Medicine Second Annual White Coat Ceremony. It’s a day of celebration!”

The students are the second class to put on those white coats.

One by one the coats they hold are put on them.

“This is a wonderful occasion not only for the students and their families but for the entire Rio Grande valley. All of our doctors are going to work very hard,” said Dr. John H. Krouse, dean of the school of medicine. “They have a lot to learn but they have to remember to be humble. And they have to remember they’re taking care of patients. And it’s the patients’ life that is in their hands.”

Dr. Steven Lieberman praised the decision to open the school, “The Rio Grande Valley has been wanting and needing a medical school for 70 years and longer. And it’s wonderful that students who grew up here now have the opportunity to stay here.”

After the ceremony, students and families attend a special reception, where many of the new medical students expressed the excitement they felt about their accomplishment.

“Excited. Excited to start my career. A lot of emotions. Overall happy. Overall excited. The family is here. We’re celebrating together,” said Rodrigo Velasquez.

“It is just the beginning. I don’t think I would say I’m nervous. I’m excited. I know it will be a big challenge and I’m looking forward going through that,” said Elizabeth Cuevas.

Krouse stated that the students would be working within the communities in the Valley, with the school’s partners and also in the colonias.

Lieberman explained the symbolism of the coats, “Right now, they get to wear the short white coats that indicate they’re students. When they graduate we’ll call them doctors. We’ll give them a long white coat and they’ll be on their way.”

The event is a rite of passage for all of these future doctors of the second white coat ceremony of the UTRGV’s School of Medicine.

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