White Coat Ceremony Celebrates Dental Students’ Commitment to Professional Integrity in Patient Care

White Coat ceremony on stage

Students receiving their white coats on stage at the Palace of Fine Arts on Aug. 21.

The Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry community recently gathered with family, friends and professional colleagues to celebrate an important milestone for hundreds of its students involved in patient care.

Students in the DDS, IDS and Dental Hygiene programs were officially welcomed into the clinical portion of their studies when they received their white coats during two ceremonies held at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco on Saturday, August 21. 

The annual ceremony, which includes taking a pledge to uphold professional integrity, is an opportunity for students to formally mark the beginning of their work with patients. The Dugoni School was the first dental school in the nation to hold a White Coat Ceremony, with the first event taking place in the mid-1990s. It’s especially meaningful this year as last year’s ceremony for the DDS and IDS Class of 2022 had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic — an ongoing feature of life that was acknowledged throughout the day.

Students reciting their professional oath during the White Coat Ceremony

Dr. Nader Nadershahi ‘94, dean, welcomed the auditorium of guests. “Today is a special day to gather and celebrate you and the future… after all that we have gone through together over the last 18 months.” Dr. Judee Tippett-Whyte ’86, president of the California Dental Association and Dugoni School alumna also addressed the students.

“Let your white coat be a reminder of your commitment to your patients and our profession each and every day. I hope it will remind you we cannot live our lives for ourselves alone, but rather make our own lives richer and more fulfilling by giving of ourselves,” said Dr. Tippett-Whyte. 

Dental hygiene students heard a message specifically for them from Heidi Coggan, RDHAP, BS, president of the California Dental Hygienists’ Association. “By now this class realizes that it is not just about teaching people how to floss, but about reducing inflammation and increasing the quality, even longevity, of life. It is about access to care and ensuring everyone receives it.”

Assistant professor Mr. Nick Forooghi, JD, an attorney who teaches ethics at the Dugoni School, also offered his unique perspective about ethics in the dental profession to the attendees.

The white coats and pins presented during the ceremony were generously donated by the school’s Alumni Association and Office of Development, represented on stage by Alumni Association President Dr. Richard Creaghe ’86 and Dugoni School Foundation President Dr. Janet Andrews ’83.

Students pose outside after the White Coast ceremony

Following the presentation of coats, Dr. Des Gallagher, Associate Dean of Clinical Affairs and Chair of the Department of Clinical Oral Healthcare, led students in the recitation of the professional oath. Students pledged to practice professional integrity, commitment to the community, respect for the people they serve and all other responsibilities of the dental profession.

University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry Professional Oath

In light of all I hold sacred, in the presence of my family, friends, and teachers, I pledge to fulfill my obligations as a member of the dental profession.

My responsibility is to promote the health of the community and the persons I serve. The health of my patients will be my first commitment.

My privileges depend upon the trust of my patients. I will not violate that trust. I will respect all that is confided in me. I will do no harm.

I will honor my patients' dignity. I will be their zealous advocate, guided by their will, sensitive to their feelings, needs, and thoughts.

I respect and cherish the lives of all persons. I will not discriminate against any person in my decisions and care.

I recognize the limits of my competence. I will seek the knowledge and inspiration of my colleagues whenever my patients' needs require. I will strive to improve the knowledge and skills I profess to have.

I am responsible for contributing to an improved community. I will strive to prevent disease and to correct adverse social conditions. I will serve as both a teacher and a role model for my patients, my successors, and the public.

I am responsible for upholding my profession's integrity. I will strive to counsel those deficient in character or competence and expose those who engage in fraud or deception. I will not use my medical knowledge in any way contrary to the laws of humanity.

With this oath, I willingly assume these responsibilities.

If I honor this oath, may I be granted fulfillment and joy in my practice of the art of dentistry, respected while I live, and remembered with affection thereafter.

10:00 am Ceremony Video – DDS and IDS 2022

3:00 pm Ceremony Video – DDS and IDS 2023 and Dental Hygiene 2022