A recent issue of AAMC Reporter offers a look at biomedical graduate students who begin their training with something typically associated with physicians-to-be: a pledge of professionalism. Jen Uscher explains:
“For many years, I had seen white coat ceremonies for physicians and said, ‘Why not create one for graduate students?’” said Michael F. Verderame, Ph.D., associate dean for graduate studies and a professor of medicine at Penn State and chair-elect of the AAMC’s Graduate Research, Education, and Training (GREAT) Group steering committee. “I wanted our incoming students to have the sense that what they’re doing is important and it matters—that graduate school isn’t just about getting through the next exam.”
Traditionally, first-year medical students—and many optometry, dentistry, and pharmacy students— begin their studies with a white coat ceremony that includes the Hippocratic oath or another professional oath. A small but growing number of biomedical graduate programs are extending this tradition to students pursuing master’s or doctoral degrees, creating their own oaths that speak to research ethics, professionalism, and institutional missions.
Verderame was inspired to create the oath ceremony in 2008 after reading an article in the journal Science that described an oath for first-year graduate students at the University of Toronto’s Institute of Medical Science (IMS) and proposed such oaths be standard in graduate science education.