The Paul L. Foster School of Medicine class of 2023’s journey to becoming doctors officially began on Saturday, July 27, when they received their first white coats as part of the time-honored White Coat Ceremony. The Foster School of Medicine, marking its 10th anniversary in 2019, held its first White Coat Ceremony in 2009 to welcome its inaugural class of 40 medical students.
As a symbol of their entrance into the profession, the 104 future doctors comprising the class of 2023 were cloaked by Richard Lange, M.D., M.B.A., president of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso and dean of the Foster School of Medicine, in the presence of family and friends.
The White Coat Ceremony is a traditional rite of passage for entering medical students. Started in 1993 by Arnold P. Gold and his foundation, the ceremony reminds students of the humanism inherent in their chosen field. In addition to being cloaked for the first time, the 104 future physicians recited an oath they wrote together.
Medical students have different reasons for wanting to become doctors. Edgar Escalante-Alderete, originally from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, decided to become a physician at 19, when his mother was diagnosed with cancer for a second time.
“I think this is one of the most special days of my life,” Escalante-Alderete said at the ceremony. “I have been working toward this for the last nine years. It just gives me the sense of trying to tell everyone to reach their goals. Because if I can do it, everyone can do whatever they want to do.”
Lauriane Loya, originally from Maryland, didn’t go directly to medical school after completing her undergraduate degree.
“Ever since I was little, it’s always been something that I wanted to pursue,” Loya said of becoming a doctor. “But I wasn’t really sure if it was for me after I finished college. But after I started teaching after college, I kept feeling myself drawn to the humanistic aspect of medicine and feeling that I wanted to have an impact in that way.”
Jose Luis Lopez, of El Paso, decided to become a doctor at a very young age because of the beliefs that his family instilled in him.
“I grew up in a very low-income community, so I always tried to find a way to help out in people’s lives and improve people’s lives,” Lopez said. “The ceremony is pretty big for me because we’re not only getting our white coats, but we’re also taking the oath for the first time. The oath reminds me of all the moral and ethical promises that we’re making to our community and all the seriousness that comes with it.”
Check out our photo gallery from the 2019 White Coat Ceremony below: