White Coat Ceremony Welcomes Class of 2023

September 3, 2019

The Columbia University College of Dental Medicine (CDM) welcomed an outstanding class of dental students at the 2019 White Coat Ceremony.

In a White Coat Ceremony, future clinicians beginning their training don the white coats of their profession for the first time. The white coat is a symbol of the knowledge, compassion, and professionalism that health care practitioners will strive to embody over the course of their careers.

Students find their seats, waiting for the ceremony to begin

CDM’s 2019 White Coat Ceremony, held on Aug. 12, marked the beginning of orientation week for new dental students. At 9 a.m. a welcome breakfast kicked off the proceedings, and at 10:30 sharp, the ceremony began. Attendees were welcomed by speakers including Columbia deans, the president of the American College of Dentists, and the orientation chairs.

Christian S. Stohler, DMD, dean of College of Dental Medicine and senior vice president of Columbia University Irving Medical Center, marked the occasion with this greeting:

Today we will recognize those members of our student body who embark on a career in dental medicine, committed to serving patients who trust them with their well-being. The White Coat Ceremony, held in the presence of family, friends and colleagues, seals the commitment of our young doctors to the profession, emphasizing compassion and the highest ethical standards in the practice of dental medicine.

Then the new students walked onto the stage with their fresh white coats in hand. Senior faculty members helped the students into their coats—just as over the next four years, faculty will help the students into their roles as health care providers, providing academic knowledge, clinical skills, and ethical guidance.

Proud faculty and students 

CDM’s Class of 2023 is academically strong, and admission was competitive. Out of 1,660 applicants, just 84 students were enrolled, and the class’s average Dental Admission Test score is among the highest in the nation. Students’ first 18 months of study will take place jointly with MD students in the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, with learning enhanced by first-of-its-kind technology in the Center for Precision Dental Medicine.

After the ceremony, several students shared their thoughts on the ceremony and CDM. Ralph Pierre’23, was attracted to both Columbia’s welcoming atmosphere and its outstanding reputation. For Caroline Greco’23 the collegiality and friendly people were a huge draw. The students were excited and appreciative to have experienced the White Coat Ceremony and were energized for the training ahead.

CDM's 2019 White Coat Ceremony

The White Coat Ceremony was founded at Columbia in 1993, and ceremonies like it are now widespread among U.S. medical schools. The ceremonies differ by institution but are generally united by three elements: a focus on humanism, excellence, and compassion in health care; a white coat or other symbol of medical practice; and an oath to which the students promise to hold themselves as they begin the practice of medicine.

At the end of the CDM White Coat Ceremony, students read the Student Honor Code aloud in unison, pledging to conduct themselves with honesty, integrity, fairness, and respect over the next four years—the first years of their careers in health care.


Congratulations, and welcome to the class of 2023.


Dentistry, Education