August 5th 2022.
A day I will always remember because it is the day I received my first white coat and was officially welcomed into the medical profession. A day that represents the start of lifelong dedication to the care and service to others through medicine. This was a symbolic start of medical school and my journey to becoming a physician.
Receiving my White Coat
Our Harvard White Coat ceremony was one of the most special events I have attended. After hearing from the Dean of the Medical School and Dental School, we began the highlight of the event: the reception of our white coats. HMS does the ceremony differently than ceremonies I have seen before, they gave us each 30 seconds to speak on stage in front of our family, friends, and everyone watching the lifestream.
As each of my classmates spoke, I learned more about them and was touched in so many ways. They shared about their reasons for going into medicine, the challenges they overcame, their passions and hopes for their medical future, the people who loved them and made them who they were. It was the most beautiful thing I have experienced.
As it was my turn, my faculty advisor coated me and I felt at once all the emotions of what this moment meant to me. I took to the mic and shared, although 30 seconds was no where near enough to truly capture what this meant to me, I spoke from the heart and shared my thoughts at that moment. From moving to the US from St. Martin eight years ago to now standing on the Harvard Medical School stage, this was a historic moment not just for me but for my entire island.
Dedication to my mom
I also had to give my special thanks to my mom who is truly superwoman. As I shared in my speech, I couldn't have gotten here without her. She sacrificed so much for me and supported me from the time I was a child. She always poured so much love and encouragement into me and taught me what it means to be resilient as she gracefully put one foot in front of the other despite the challenges faced.
I knew I wanted my mom to coat me because this coat is truly a representation of all that she poured into me that allowed me to become who I am today. And I have to give thanks for all she did to get me here today, from driving me to my MCAT and to the hospital, to listening to me stress about my exams or explaining biochemistry pathways to help me study. My mom has been my rock and support and I thank God that I have been blessed with such an amazing person to call my mother.
My Support System
My family and friends traveled to Boston for this occasion and I could only thank God for the amazing support system that I have. One of my favorite moments was after the ceremony we popped a bottle of champagne and I was able to do individual toasts to each and every person who attended the event to support me.
One of my faculty said on our first day of medical school, "you are who you are because of the people that love you....tell them you love them."
To be surrounded by love on this day is all I could ask for and I took the opportunity to share why I loved them and how their love and support got me to where I am today.
I want to take a moment and express my love and thanks to everyone who supported me along this journey and who joined the ceremony virtually to be with me in spirit for this occasion. To every family member, friend, supporter, teacher, mentor, and more....thank you! Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for pushing me. Thank you for praying for me. Thank you for cheering me on.
The journey to this white coat is hard and demanding and I could not have made it here without all of the above. Now that I have the privilege of wearing this white coat, my path forward will only be harder and more demanding as I train to become a physician, but I am comforted by knowing that I have the love, support, and prays behind me.
What my White Coat means to me
To me, putting on this white coat symbolizes me stepping into the medical profession. It means taking on the responsibility of caring for my future patients with the best clinical care, compassion, and integrity that I can give them. It means being a part of something much bigger than myself, it is me joining along with physicians who have dedicated themselves to the service of others. This white coat is a symbol of having a love for humanity. As I look at it hanging in my closet, I think about why I decided to pursue medicine. I picture the physician I want to be when I put this coat on, one who connects deeply with her patients, who is skilled and talented in her clinical expertise, who is caring and kind and who truly listens to her patients and helps address all aspects of their health with the utmost respect and dignity.
Finally, wearing this white coat is a symbol of representation to show other young people who look like me and who come from similar backgrounds as me that they too can pursue medicine and make it to their white coat ceremony. It represents the fact that I can give my Black and Caribbean patients representation of themselves when I wear this white coat in the hospital. It is a reminder that diversity and equity is crucial yet lacking in our medical system and that I can be a part of that change.
Each year the HMS/HDMS class comes together and writes an oath to ourselves, our patients, and the world. I want to share our oath with you today because it truly encompasses what our class represents to the field of medicine. My classmates are truly the most incredible, passionate, and brightest people I have met and it is a true honor to learn and work alongside them.
To our patients, we pledge: to see you for who you are beyond your diagnosis; to build our relationship on a foundation of empathy and respect. We vow to create space to listen without judgment or bias, and to be compassionate stewards of your care. We will learn from and walk alongside you through your journey.
To ourselves, we promise: to maintain a sense of joy, wonder, and curiosity; to care for ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually; to challenge our own beliefs and biases; to carry ourselves with humility and integrity; to forgive ourselves; to be ourselves; to love ourselves.
To each other, we pledge: to approach our mutual learning with open mindedness and an appreciation of each other’s distinct perspectives; to support each other’s wellness with compassion and empathy; to uplift each other; to never forget the joy of medicine; to hold each other accountable to upholding the tenets of honesty and integrity in the practice of medicine.
To the world, we promise: to work towards building trustworthy healthcare systems by acknowledging the ways in which our current systems have failed patients. We pledge to remain committed to making improvements to these institutions. Learning from history and those who came before us, we will address systems of oppression that exist at home and across the globe, affecting patients everywhere. We recognize the diversity of our communities and we promise to respect their various cultures and identities as we support their medical care. And finally, we promise to leave the world better than we found it and to never lose hope in our ability to make change.
I promise to live by this oath throughout my medical journey. I am truly honored to be a medical student and I am excited for the start of my education and all that this will bring.
Thank you for your support and care. I am grateful to be able to share a bit of my journey with all of you. I promise to stay true to myself, my values, and my "why medicine" and to become the best doctor I can be for my future patients and community.