A crowdfunding campaign dedicated to providing white coats to first-year medical students at this year’s White Coat Ceremony has been a major success, beating its initial goal by almost $20,000.
Thanks to donations from alumni, family, friends, and members of the community and their support, the inaugural campaign for the McGovern Medical School White Coat Sponsor Program shattered its initial goal of $2,000, ultimately raising $21,430. The campaign met its goal within hours of beginning April 5.
The impetus behind the campaign came from Dean Barbara J. Stoll, following a personal experience with a program at another school. Funds raised from the campaign will go towards purchasing white coats that will be handed to incoming medical students during the White Coat Ceremony Aug. 2. Additional funds will support white coats for future first year classes.
“We hope this truly sets the stage for the incoming class to have a great start to their careers,” said C. Mark Chassay, M.D., associate dean for alumni relations, assistant dean for admissions and student affairs, and assistant professor in the departments of Orthopedic Surgery and Family Medicine.
Virginia Craig, director of Annual Giving, opted to use a crowdfunding platform and tap into the excitement and generosity of alumni nationwide.
“It isn’t like simply donating a textbook to a student that will be used for a year and either sold back or given to another student,” Craig said. “You’re purchasing their white coat and their first big step in medical school and it’s so meaningful.”
Derrick Miller, director of alumni relations, said emails were distributed primarily among alumni and word quickly spread to all corners of the U.S. Beyond the 77 donors from within Texas, donations poured in from places like California, Louisiana, New York, Massachusetts, Colorado, Missouri, and even Hawaii. He said the initiative was “very much a grassroots effort.”
The first White Coat Ceremony was held in 1996 after it was established in 1993 by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation as a way to welcome medical students into the medical profession. In addition to donning their white coats for the first time, students recite the Hippocratic Oath, reminding them of the sacred promise between caregiver and patient. The gold lapel pin they will receive from the foundation contains an inscription about humanism in medicine–a visual connection to our school’s values.
Dr. Arnold Gold of The Arnold P. Gold Foundation died in 2018 at the age of 92. He was an internationally known pediatric neurologist and professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He taught the art, as well as the science, of medicine. He also emphasized the value of respectful, honest communication with patients and families–how to share good news and bad, with humility and humor. The goal of the Gold Foundation has been to promote a “Gold Standard” in healthcare–compassionate, collaborative, and scientifically excellent care.
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