August 15, 2023—(BRONX, NY)—Medical students in Albert Einstein College of Medicine’s Class of 2027 received their white coats, learned about healthcare challenges in the Bronx and beyond, and bonded with classmates during a busy orientation week designed to prepare them for their educational journey and upcoming years of rigorous training.
The week’s activities culminated in the annual “On Becoming a Physician” ceremony, where alumni cloaked 183 first-year students with monogrammed short white coats that signify their formal entry into the medical field. The coats were donated by the Einstein Alumni Association.
“Years of hard work led to getting this white coat,” said Pushti Shah, 24. “I can’t imagine being anywhere else. I have a passion to help people who are underserved, people who are just as human as everyone else but who don’t get the same opportunities for healthcare because of where they live. I’m really excited to meet our patients and connect with them one-to-one.”
White Coats and a Class Oath
For medical students, the white coat ceremony is a rite of passage but also a sober reminder of their responsibilities to academics, service, and patient care.
Philip O. Ozuah, M.D., Ph.D., president and CEO of Montefiore Medicine, welcomed the M.D. students and quoted the College of Medicine’s namesake about the tendency of humans to experience themselves as being “separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness,” which Einstein noted was a kind of prison. “He said, ‘Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion,’” said Dr. Ozuah.
Einstein’s interim dean, Harris Goldstein, M.D. ‘80, greeted the audience and commended the students for reaching this milestone. “I want to congratulate the incoming first-year class for all the dedication, hard work, resilience, fortitude, and effort that was required for you to sit in your seat today as a student at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.”
Dr. Goldstein, who is also senior associate dean for scientific affairs, and professor of pediatrics and of microbiology & immunology, also urged them to reflect on how their parents, family members, and loved ones have proudly helped them achieve their goals. Keeping those supporters in mind, he said, will serve as a “future moral and ethical compass” when faced with pressure, difficult medical decisions, and internal questions about the optimal care and treatment for patients.
Joshua Nosanchuk, M.D., senior associate dean for medical education and professor of medicine and of microbiology & immunology at Einstein, encouraged students to approach their career from the perspective of those they would serve. “Mahatma Ghandi said, ‘The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others,’” Dr. Nosanchuk said. “Fundamentally, it is not for you, yourself, that you are a physician, but it is for the benefit of others. And your sincere investment in lifelong learning is critical to the care and education of those in your charge.”
Alumni Association President Richard Frankenstein, M.D. ’74, an internist and former chief medical officer of two California hospitals, welcomed the group on behalf of Einstein’s more than 10,000 alumni. Borrowing a line from the stage production of “Fame,” he said: “Doctors and students, you ‘make magic’ every single day. Never forget that. What we do as routine business is magic for our patients. And we are so privileged.”
At the end of the ceremony, first-year students Divya Periyakoil and Elizabeth Bier led their classmates in reciting an oath the entire class created earlier in the week. They pledged, among other things to “use our voices to advocate for marginalized populations and strive to promote equitable access to the highest quality medical treatment for all” and “to be attentive to scientific progress and medical advancements.”
There were 9,102 applicants for the Class of 2027 and the admissions team conducted 948 interviews.
- Students range in age from 21 years old to 40 years old
- 108 of the students (59%) are women and 33 (18%) are from groups traditionally underrepresented in medicine
- 14 students are pursuing a combined M.D./Ph.D. from the Medical Science Training Program
- 3 students participated in an Einstein pathway program as undergraduates
- Twenty-two students (12%) were born outside the United States in countries that include China, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Greece, Guyana, India, Israel, Japan, Kazakhstan, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Qatar, Uganda, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
- 22 states are represented. Ninety students (49%) are residents of New York State; one was born in the Bronx.
Einstein in the Bronx and Beyond
Other orientation activities for the new medical students included a presentation on the history of the Bronx, a lecture on implicit bias, panels led by upperclassmen, meetings with community organizations that serve borough residents, and an introduction to Einstein’s global health programs.
The week also included team-building exercises and recreational activities, including a spirited evening of dodgeball at the Falk Center. Classes for first-years begin on August 14.
“It was a great way to start the process,” said Tate Bertea, 24, reflecting on orientation week and his reasons for choosing Einstein. “I feel like it’s been a lot of hard work over a lot of years that is finally coming together. I wanted to be in a big city where community service and an emphasis on healthcare accessibility was a real focus.”
For Yuliana Dominguez Paez, 23, Einstein was a natural fit. Born in Jarabacoa in the Dominican Republic and a resident of the Bronx for nearly two decades, she participated in several Einstein-supported pathway programs, including the Summer Undergraduate Mentorship Program, Mentoring in Medicine, and Bronx Community Health Leaders, to help prepare her for medical school.
“Einstein and Montefiore provided so much support,” she said. “They showed me that there were people like me who can become doctors. I’m thrilled to have the chance to represent my people and look forward to these new responsibilities. I’m really excited to see what this class will be doing in the future and how they will contribute to the Bronx.”