Memories of a White Coat

white coat ceremonyLast Friday, it was my pleasure to serve as the emcee for the M.D. Class of 2019 White Coat Ceremony and the J.S. Reinschmidt Lecture.

The white coat is a time honored tradition in the medical field, marking an important step in each future physician’s journey.

I remember when I was sitting in that seat, during my own White Coat Ceremony at the University of Utah Medical School. I was filled with plenty of emotions – happiness, excitement, nervousness, fear of the unknown, but above all, hope about the future. While that was 19 years ago, it really doesn’t seem that long ago!

In my address to students, I asked them to visualize their future selves: as seasoned physicians and lifelong learners, as public servants who provide comfort, as collaborators who work seamlessly with other health care professionals, as leaders in their future fields.

In the first days and weeks of one’s medical school experience, it may be hard to see that future self. But just as countless physicians have done before, it is important that today’s students trust that the process will lead them to a crisp, clear and obvious end.

Last week, 146 students made their first step in a journey that I remember like it was yesterday. At the time of my White Coat, I had followed my dream of going to medical school, and I quickly realized that caring for children as a pediatrician was my calling.

My path through medical school and pediatrics residency training at OHSU culminated when I was fortunate to join the faculty as one of three members of a new group of pediatric hospitalists at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital. As a medical student and resident, I had not heard of nor worked with anyone called a “hospitalist” and yet now the field is the fastest growing pediatric specialty in the U.S.

Today, as an educator, I’m looking forward to seeing where the road leads for the Class of 2019.


Tracy Bumsted

Tracy Bumsted, M.D., MPH, FAAP, has been the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Medical Education at the OHSU School of Medicine since 2013. Dr. Bumsted is a practicing board certified pediatrician on the inpatient unit at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, where she is a member of the Division of Pediatric Hospital Medicine in the Department of Pediatrics.