White Coat Ceremony Welcomes Class of 2023

August 12, 2019
VP&S Class of 2023 at the White Coat Ceremony on August 12, 2019
VP&S Class of 2023

On Aug. 12, 140 members of the Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons (VP&S) Class of 2023 were welcomed into the Columbia community at the White Coat Ceremony in the Armory. The event is an annual tradition for new students, who are cloaked in white coats and recite the Hippocratic Oath for the first time before their families and friends.

Gerald E. Thomson, MD, the Samuel Lambert Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Robert Sonneborn Professor Emeritus of Medicine, spoke at this year’s ceremony. He is the sixth Fern Feldman Anolick-Gold Foundation lecturer, an honor given to an individual who embodies compassion in medicine. 

“We are recognizing not only that you are starting as a medical student but also that you are joining the profession of medicine today,” said Dr. Thomson, who began his address by noting that 2019 marks his 60th year as a physician. He emphasized the values of medical ethics and medical professionalism as "superior guides for physicians" and urged students to always advocate for putting the patient first. 

In addition, students heard remarks by Lee Goldman, MD, the Harold and Margaret Hatch Professor, dean of the Faculties of Health Sciences and Medicine, and Chief Executive of Columbia University Irving Medical Center; Lisa Mellman, MD, senior associate dean for student affairs; and Laureen Hill, MD, senior vice president and chief operating officer of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

This year’s White Coat Ceremony also follows a transition in admissions leadership. On July 1, Anne Armstrong-Coben, MD’89, associate professor of pediatrics, was appointed senior associate dean for admissions for VP&S after serving as interim dean for nearly a year and helping to select the Class of 2023. 

Watch our video to learn more about Armstrong-Coben:

Anne Armstrong-Coben, MD'89: Medical School Memories

VP&S Class of 2023 Statistics

The Class of 2023 had 7,914 applicants.

The class includes 10 students enrolled in the Columbia-Bassett Program, which combines traditional medical education in New York City at VP&S with hospital-based outpatient and inpatient clinical education at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, New York.

Twenty-one percent of the entering class belong to groups underrepresented in medicine, and 50 percent are women.

Twelve students entered the MD/PhD dual degree program, which trains physician-scientists, and one student entered the accelerated three-year PhD-to-MD program.

Members of the Class of 2023 come from 32 states and 17 countries.

Ten percent of the incoming class is the first generation of their family to attend college. 

This is the second class to benefit from the VP&S scholarship program, which replaces all student loans in medical students’ financial aid packages with scholarships. 

Read more about a few members of the Class of 2023, including Cristian J. Peña, Lindsay Caprio, and Catherine Jennings

Watch the full recording of the White Coat Ceremony on the VP&S YouTube channel