White Coat Ceremony Marks Students’ Transition to Clinical Care

students outside in a group selfie pose at The Palace of Fine Arts

The recent White Coat Ceremony held by the Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry marked a significant milestone for students in their respective programs. Held at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre in San Francisco on July 29, the ceremony signified the commencement of their journey in providing care to patients at the school's dental clinics.

During the event, the members of the DDS and IDS Class of 2025 and Dental Hygiene Class of 2024 made a solemn commitment, pledging to uphold professional integrity, show utmost respect towards their patients and fulfill other vital responsibilities as healthcare providers.

Since the mid-1990s, the Dugoni School has proudly upheld the tradition of the White Coat Ceremony. As the first dental school in the United States to introduce this ceremony, it holds special significance for the institution.

Dr. Nader Nadershahi '94, dean and vice provost of the school, warmly welcomed the nearly 1,000 attendees, which included many families and friends all gathered to support and celebrate the aspiring dental professionals. He also shared some history of the first white coat ceremonies held in medical and dental training, introduced guest speakers and school leaders, and shared closing remarks.

“As an oral health care provider, others will look to you for help,” he said. “Through your unique knowledge and skills, you will be able to reduce human pain and suffering, treat disease – and ultimately help people lead healthier and happier lives.”

Dr. John Blake ’88, president of the California Dental Association, addressed the students in a prerecorded video. “White Coat brings back some fond memories… it marks that transition from what I’ll call didactic purgatory into clinical care.” said Blake. “The white coat represents many things, but to me, it’s professionalism, it’s trust, it’s responsibility. All of that comes together as you go out and start to treat patients.”

“You are becoming a health care provider and you are entering a profession that serves the public. It is a role that carries great responsibility to practice ethically, to provide quality care to your patients, to make a difference in their lives and to make a difference in the overall health of your communities,” said California Dental Hygienists’ Association President Kathy Kane BSDH, RDH, RDHAP ’04.

Special remarks about the importance of ethics in dentistry were given by Professor Nick Farzin Forooghi, JD, Esq. Forooghi serves as a faculty member, course director, and content coordinator in “Ethics and Professionalism” related courses at the Dugoni School, and is a co-chair of the Institutional Review Board for University of the Pacific.

“Remember that your professional life and training at our school reflects the philosophy of humanism and reflects the ‘Head, Heart and Hands’ way of learning that our school embraces,” he said. “Ethics in your profession arises and thrives in your heart, supported by your mind and the relevant knowledge you require, and the skills you will practice with your hands as doctors of dentistry and certified dental hygienists.”

The white coats and pins presented during the ceremony were donated by the school’s Alumni Association and Office of Development.

Following the presentation of coats, Dr. Des Gallagher, Associate Dean for Clinical Services, led students in the recitation of the professional oath. 

Dental students wearing their new white lab coats following the ceremony

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.

Dental students reading the oath of professionalism

White Coat Ceremony Photo Gallery

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White Coat Ceremony Video