Dear Colleagues,

Last week, we welcomed our incoming Class of 2026 medical students through a series of orientation activities that introduced them to the next four years of their journey as future physicians. While these students begin to hit the books and prepare for the exceptional education they will receive, we were first able to share some of the symbolism behind two hallmarks of our profession: the stethoscope and the white coat.

Each year, the new M1 students are presented with their first stethoscope. At an event organized and sponsored by the alumni association, School of Medicine Alumni President Dr. Steven Daniels (class of 1987), an anesthesiologist, presided over the breakfast event. The stethoscope is a tool that they will have the opportunity to become experts in using as physicians and represents the many technical skills they will learn throughout their training. In my world of neuromuscular disease, I have become an expert at using the reflex hammer and tuning fork. I told the students that depending on what area of medicine they pursue they will become technically proficient in a set of tools.

2022 stethoscope breakfast
The annual Presentation of Stethoscopes is an important tradition in the journey of our medical students. We are thankful to the alumni, donors and friends of the School of Medicine who make this tradition possible.

I know the medical students will use their new stethoscopes extensively over the next several years. Handing out these gifts from our alumni to the students is a meaningful annual ceremony that has become an important part of the first-year medical student program. Being technically skilled in a health care area is only one part of becoming a physician. Another key part is developing the ability to become empathetic with patients and their families. Empathy and acceptance are at the forefront of our patient-centered care curriculum.

In our annual white coat ceremony, 128 students donned their first white coat, which for years has been a symbol of health care professionals. This ceremony is another meaningful event which signifies a covenant — a compact, a contract, an agreement, a commitment — to knowledge, mutual respect and shared humanity.

2022 annual white coat ceremony
It was great to see Mizzou Arena filled with white coats and our Class of 2026. Learn more about the class.

I believe the white coat represents our humanity and compassion, the respect that a physician must have for each and every patient. At this special event in Mizzou Arena, hundreds of students, family and friends attended. There were inspiring comments by Samantha Metzger, an M4 student, and orthopaedic surgery faculty member Nathan Gause, MD. The speakers conveyed a great deal of wisdom.

Take a few minutes to watch this video to get a glimpse into this year’s white coat ceremony.

To conclude the ceremony, the students recited the Oath of Geneva, which speaks to the immense responsibility we have to care for our patients and respond to human need. This was an emotional experience for all in attendance.

I am eager to see how our new learners will impact medicine and make a difference in the lives of their patients. To our new learners and colleagues, welcome to Mizzou!


Rick Barohn, MD

Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs
University of Missouri