Promise of a bright future
The dental hygiene class of 2025 and dental class of 2027 received their white coats Nov. 3, marking a rite of passage in their education. During the ceremony at Criswell College, students committed to continuous professional improvement, caring for the patients who put their trust in them and upholding the integrity of their profession in all of their conduct.
“It is an honor to participate in this event, which indicates a vital turning point for our students,” said Dr. Julie Stelly, president of the Texas A&M School of Dentistry Alumni Association. “The white coat is symbolic of the unique, professional relationship between the dental hygienist and patient, and the dentist and patient. The white coat ceremony reminds us and those who present in a white coat to be mindful and to consider the significance of these responsibilities and duties.”
Dr. Jennifer Barrington, associate dean for clinical affairs, added that the pledges recited by students during the ceremony highlight important things to remember throughout their educations and future careers. Patients are the first and foremost responsibility, she said.
“If you keep patient care as your priority, the other aspects of your work will follow,” she said.
Another aspect of the dental and dental hygiene pledges is a commitment to continuous education. Learning and growing does not end at graduation, Barrington said. Students must commit to learning continuously, to keeping their skills honed and to embrace advances in the field to better serve their communities.
“As a dental professional, you will have many opportunities to serve your community, ranging from small acts of private generosity to participation in programs that can uplift the welfare of an entire community, at times having impact on regional, national and international levels,” Barrington said. “As a healthcare professional, you have the privilege and duty to contribute to the well-being of your community.”
She also urged students to remember they represent more than themselves when they wear the white coat. They are expected to behave by a code of conduct, she said, and to live and work with integrity, which is vital to building a trusting relationship between patients and providers.
“Getting my white coat feels amazing,” said DH1 Antoinette Delarosa, a feeling voiced by many of her fellow dental hygiene students at the ceremony.
D1 Alex Feldman said it felt surreal.
“We’ve worked three months already in dental school, and I’m excited about the future now,” he said.