UH Med Now
New medical students receive their white coats of healing
The University of Hawaiʻi John A. Burns School of Medicine (UH JABSOM) welcomes 77 new MD students, presenting them with crisp white coats embroidered with a green JABSOM logo and their names across the front.
Watch our video, with student interviews
On Friday, July 23rd, JABSOM held its annual White Coat Ceremony at the McKinley High School Auditorium, officially ushering in the MD Class of 2025. The milestone underscores recognition of the beginning of their medical careers with their first physician’s white coat, a shorter version of the frock of their future profession.
“Super exciting, such a surreal moment, I think, just because the journey (to medical school) is so long and it all really culminates to this moment,” said Marissa Inouye, first-year medical student from Hawaiʻi Kai.
“Tonight is a day I’ve looked forward to for many, many years. The white coat to me, before I started this first week of medical school, meant the day of accomplishment and everything I’ve been working towards but as we’ve been hearing from some of our mentors, the doctors and the faculty talk about the significance of the white coat, I’m realizing that it’s actually symbolic of dedicating my life to service and to the patient,” said said Kelly Watanabe, first-year medical student from Kaimuki. “I feel very privileged, honored and blessed to be in this position where I can help patients at their most vulnerable times.”
“I actually went to McKinley High School so it’s an amazing experience to come back to my high school alma mater to receive my white coat,” said first-year medical student Baoxin Liang. She is excited to be the first in her family to attend medical school.
Jordan Petersen, first-year medical student from West Maui says he witnessed his wife’s white coat ceremony when she began veterinary school in 2015 but at that time he had no idea he wanted to go into medicine and was excited to experience this special and meaningful moment for himself. Petersen said, “I’m hoping that I’ll make some lifelong friends and definitely have lifelong connections with all my classmates.”
The hybrid ceremony was limited to two guests per student, as well as few faculty, staff and volunteers. Others were encouraged to join via livestream. The evening began with a special chant in Olelo Hawaiʻi as the students walked into the auditorium. They were “cloaked” onstage by either JABSOM faculty, a family physician or a physician mentor and ended the night reciting the physician’s creed, the Hippocratic Oath.
The new MD class is composed of mainly local students: 85% are from Hawaiʻi including five from Hawaiʻi island and two from Maui. The remaining are from Guam, Canada and the mainland US including California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York and Oregon. This year, eight students are of Native Hawaiian ancestry. Other minorities include Filipino (9), Guamanian (1), Samoan (1) and Mexican/Chicano (1). Approximately 33% graduated from the UH system (including undergraduates and graduate students). Seven students matriculated into JABSOM after graduating from the yearlong ʻImi Hoʻōla Post-Baccalaureate Program, which provides a pathway into medicine for students from disadvantaged and underserved communities.
By Deborah Manog Dimaya, Interim Communications Director
View the livestream recording (chapters available):
View the flippable program online