UNE COM white coat ceremony held as drive-thru event this year

Drive thru white coat
President Herbert gets ready to present a white coat

UNE’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (UNE COM) found a creative way to celebrate its newest class of medical students.

UNE COM would normally hold a white coat ceremony for the class of 2024 to welcome the students into the medical profession and to honor their commitment to serving the needs of their future patients. The annual ceremony allows the students, as they wear their white coats for the first time, to join generations of physicians around the country committed to service through medicine.

Because of the pandemic, UNE COM postponed the ceremony, and instead, held a drive-thru event. The occasion was covered by several local media outlets.

“I am incredibly proud of our entire community for being so creative and putting together this virtual event," James Herbert, president of UNE told NEWS CENTER Maine. "The white coat ceremony is a milestone for our College of Osteopathic Medicine students and we cannot do it this year because of COVID-19 in the traditional way, but our faculty and professional staff have been very creative in adapting the ceremony.”

Students lined up in their vehicles and drove past the Campus Center in Biddeford to receive their white coats. They were recognized individually, complete with a recorded cheering section.

“It is really important to see your faculty members supporting you through the process, and whether it is in-person with all of your family, or driving through in a car, it still means the same to me," student Madeline Egan, (D.O., ’24) told WGME.

Jane Carreiro, D.O., dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine and vice president for Health Affairs, says it was important to hold the ceremony, even though a different format had to be adopted.

“We wanted to at least have the students go through the process to get their white coats at the end of the first semester,” she stated. “It has been a really hard semester. So, we wanted to honor that and help them make that transition in a socially distanced way.”

For Kathleen Becker, Ph.D., assistant professor of medical sciences, the ceremony provided her with an opportunity see some of her students in person for the first time.

“I meet with students virtually in small groups, but we have never had the chance to meet in person,” she explained. “With masks on, we did not actually recognize each other at first. But, when we did recognize each other, you could see the joy pop onto their faces and I was feeling that too. Just to finally have that personal connection, see each other, and say ‘we are in this together’ has been really great.”

Six interview
President Herbert interviewed by NEWS CENTER Maine
White coat 1
Students were recognized individually
white coat celebration
Student is handed celebratory gift
student interview
Student Madeline Egan interviewed by WGME