2022 white coat ceremonies

A symbolic next step for dental and dental hygiene students
November 21st, 2022

Dental hygiene students reciting their pledge during last week’s white coat ceremony

A total of 136 dental and dental hygiene students at Texas A&M School of Dentistry reached an important milestone in their education as they received their white coats in separate ceremonies held Nov. 18 at nearby Criswell College. The white coat ceremony is a longstanding tradition for students pursuing careers in health-related fields, such as dentistry and medicine.

Among those honored were 106 D1 students and 30 DH1 students. Lana Crawford, secretary and treasurer of the Texas A&M School of Dentistry Alumni Association and an alumna of the class of 1968, explained that students attending the ceremony had reached a stage in their education where they would begin seeing actual patients in the clinics. While they continue to study in the classrooms, they will begin to put what they learn into practice. This is a great achievement for them, she said, but also symbolizes an important responsibility.

“As you don your white coat, you are accepting the mantle worn with pride by professionals and regarded with the utmost respect by the patients who place their health and well-being in your hands,” Crawford said. “We welcome you as colleagues into this new phase of your professional education, and we urge you to reflect with pride and gravity on the importance of wearing the white coat.”

Dental students celebrating after receiving their white coats

It was not just the efforts of students that were noted at Friday’s ceremonies. Dean Lily T. García encouraged students to remember they did not reach this milestone on their own. Family, friends and educators have all been there to support the student body, she said.

“I also want to take a moment to recognize our School of Dentistry faculty,” García said. “Our faculty teach and mentor some of the best students from around the country, and we could not do this without their committed service.”

Upon receiving their white coats, the students recited either the Dentist’s Pledge or the Dental Hygiene Pledge. Both pledges affirm the future dentists’ and dental hygienists’ commitment to patient care, oral health and respecting the trust patients give them for their care.

“A portion of the pledge reads, ‘I affirm my personal and professional commitment to improve and promote high standards of quality care,’” said Laurie Inglis, class of 2002 and a past president of the alumni association, to the dental hygiene class. “I want to emphasize how important it is for you to keep this statement as the foundation for building your professional career. If you keep patient care as your priority, the other aspects of your job will follow.”

Several dental students pose for a photo at last week’s white coat ceremony

Dr. Jennifer Barrington, associate dean of clinical affairs, told the dental students their pledge also includes a commitment to the betterment of their communities.

“As a dentist, you will have many opportunities to serve your community, ranging from small acts of private generosity to participation in programs that can substantially improve the health and well-being of an entire community,” she said.

More photos from the white coat ceremonies can be found here.

— Caleb Vierkant