A first for dental hygiene students

November 3rd, 2021

The Oct. 29 white coat ceremony for Caruth School of Dental Hygiene’s Class of 2022 and Class of 2023 was special for many reasons.

First and foremost, this was the first time dental hygiene students received white coats. The event was especially meaningful because several Caruth alumni funded the coats’ cost.

“We believe the white coat is an appropriate symbol of the dental hygienist-patient relationship,” said Lana Crawford, Caruth Class of 1968, to the 59 students and their families at the ceremony. “Further, the white coat symbolizes the collegial relationship that exists between dental hygiene professionals. We want our students to remember that their colleagues in the Alumni Association, on the Caruth School of Dental Hygiene faculty, and in the practicing community will be a rich resource throughout their professional careers.”

Crawford also noted the white coats demonstrated the collegial relationships that are a point of pride at Texas A&M. Regents Professor Dr. Lynne Opperman, presiding over the ceremony, thanked the Alumni Association on behalf of the college for helping to bring together this special honor for the students.

“I was just really excited to be a sponsor for the dental hygiene students,” says Carolyn Ramirez, Class of 2016. “I thought this was a great step the school took. … I think we really need to have a good relationship between the dentist and the dental hygienist as partners.”

Dental hygiene students at their white coat ceremony

Ramirez says she decided to pursue an education and career in dental hygiene because she wanted a job where she could work directly with people. She adds that she found the education fascinating. Providing white coats to dental hygienists, an honor up to this point reserved for dental students, helps strengthen a sense of partnership between dentists and dental hygienists, she says.

Before the students donned their new coats during the ceremony, Caruth graduate Glenna Johns, Class of 1965, spoke about the importance of remembering what the white coat represented. She emphasized to her audience that their conduct mattered in their career.

“If you keep patient care as your priority, the other aspects of your job will follow,” Johns said. “Another aspect of the [dental hygienist’s] pledge addresses your obligation to uphold the integrity of the profession. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of formulating a high code of conduct – both personal and professional – and dedicating yourself to following it.”

— Caleb Vierkant