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Class of 2017 White Coat Ceremony Held at the Colonnade Hotel

Group of students sitting in rows in their white coats at the White Coat ceremony.

Why do second year NECO students receive white coats? President Scott explains the significance of the white coat and then poses for a photo with the class!

The transition from a first-year student to a second-year student can be monumental. In the first year at the New England College of Optometry, students take basic coursework towards their optometry degree and begin conducting vision screenings. The second year marks a transition of growing responsibility. Today, this was formalized with the official White Coat ceremony in which each second-year student received a white coat to wear in their clinical work in health centers, clinics, and hospitals. This ceremony helps mark the shift in responsibility for more detailed clinical work. President Scott explained, “When you get the white coat, it is a symbol to you and your loved ones that you have earned a higher level of respect in the professional world.” In addition to the white coat, students each received an official letter documenting their achievements which they present to NECO’s clinical affiliates as they begin their work this year.

Professor Fuensanta Vera-Diaz, President Clifford Scott, Dean Barry Fisch, Student Services Dean Barbara McGinley, alumni board president Bill Gleason each addressed the students, giving them advice and urging them to take this new responsibility seriously. Dean Barry Fisch noted, “Students come here to do well, but they end up doing good in the world.”  Receiving a white coat begins a process of professional work through rotations that will continue for the Class of 2017 for the next three years.
Receiving a white coat is more than just an accomplishment of surviving the first year of the OD program. Dr. Scott explained, “Now that you have the white coat, people have expectations. They come to you for answers….if you don't know, don't make up the answer. If you do know, appropriately explain the answer, you educate them, you treat them. That's what the white coat means.
Highlighting the depth and value of the comprehensive clinical training NECO provides, President Scott explained, “By having the opportunity to see patients in their own environment, with all their complexities that brings, socio-economic status, language, lack of participation in their own health care, you are going to become very adept at providing whatever services are needed and that is the hallmark of a true doctor.”
Dean of Academic Affairs Barry Fisch told the class, “Be the most wonderful, skillful doctor that you can be with the highest professional and humanistic qualities… use this white coat as a reminder of your responsibility to your patients and your duty to society to do well… but not as a means to separate yourself from your patients but as a means to let them know by your actions and words that you are someone who holds their needs and interests foremost.
President Scott poses for a photo with the class!