The second years have a new addition to their closet – their white coats! For those of you that are curious about the significance of the white coat, it symbolizes an optometry student’s acceptance into the clinical world. We have taken a step up from nervously performing procedures solely on our classmates in pre-clinic and are ready to take our learned skills into a real clinical setting with a professional attitude.
The White Coat Ceremony is not only a wonderful celebration of the advancement of clinical privileges, it is also a gathering of our loved ones. The event was also a great way to visualize the amount of support and encouragement that our family and friends have provided for our classmates. This is the first time our families have all joined together with the students, and it is overwhelming to think that the next time will be at graduation! Can you believe that? In two and a half years, we will gather again in front of this audience to receive our graduation robes as doctors of optometry.
Two of our professors were chosen by the second year students to grant us this clinical privilege and distribute our white coats. Dr. Maureen Hanley and Dr. Nancy Coletta are two professors who have worked closely with students in lab and/or class since day one as first year students, and we were honored to be “coated” by them. Although the ceremony was focused on the significance of the white coat and our progression as optometry students, it was also a time to recollect and realize the long journey ahead of us as well.
Dr. Robert DiMartino, the Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs, brought to light the sacrifices that medical professionals make for their careers. Even as students, we are aware of the commitment we must make to our patients and our practices, and I admire this part of the profession. We are in this together for the benefit of the patients that we will help in the future, and we need to be mentally prepared for what is ahead.
Dr. Linda Bennett, President of the Alumni Association, also spoke to the audience about how the students will one day become alumni of the New England College of Optometry. And on that day, we will not be referred to as students anymore but as colleagues. This concept seems out of reach to us now, but I know it will feel like a hop and a skip away in a couple years.
Every now and then, I find amusement when reflecting back to when we were fumbling around with equipment in lab just last year. Now we are adept at performing part of examinations in our respective clinics with real patients. From strangers to family and from student clinicians to clinical interns, it is amazing how far we have come in just one and a half years together. I cannot wait to continue this optometric journey with my NECO family to the day that I can face my classmates and call them my colleagues in this profession.
Photo caption: OD2 student bloggers Biren and Tiffany at the White Coat Ceremony!
Tiffany is a third year student at New England College of Optometry. Born and raised in Maryland, she graduated from the University of Maryland in both Biological Sciences and Psychology. Her initial interest in optometry stems from shadowing and working in practices that provide vision therapy.