Inaugural class of Central Michigan’s College of Medicine arrives

White coat ceremony signals start of medical school journey
CMED White Coat Ceremony

The inaugural class of the Central Michigan University College of Medicine was welcomed to campus Sunday with a 90-minute convocation that included a white-coat ceremony.

CMU President George E. Ross, Founding Dean Ernie Yoder and others addressed the class of 64 students at the CMU Event Center. The white-coat ceremony, a common tradition at most medical schools, is meant to signal the commitment students make on their way to becoming primary-care physicians in one of seven general specialties, such as family medicine or pediatrics. 

“I am extraordinarily proud of you,” Ross said in welcoming the students to campus. “I have the highest of expectations for the care you someday will deliver with great wisdom and great compassion to your patients and their families.”

Orientation starts Monday, Aug. 5, and once classes begin the following week, students will undergo a specially designed, rigorous curriculum of team-based learning and problem solving that includes early clinical experiences. Third- and fourth-year students will be based in primary care practices, with many of them learning and serving in Saginaw at Covenant HealthCare or St. Mary’s of Michigan.

Yoder spoke to the incoming students about the need to do more than diagnose and heal, but to connect with patients.

“At the micro level, it's all about the physician-patient relationship,” he said. “On a macro level, it's about engaging with our communities and help support healthier communities. We'll be here to advise you, sometimes to instruct you, but mostly, to partner with you.”

Dr. David Hirsh, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and director and co-founder of the Harvard Medical School-Cambridge Integrated Clerkship, spoke to the class in an interactive address.

"Wearing a white coat is a moral practice,” Hirsh said. “It's a human practice. Do not let that white coat divide you from human kind. … Bring your biggest human self to other human beings."

The CMU College of Medicine, the nation’s 137th medical school, has a unique mission to train physicians to care for the residents of Michigan’s medically underserved cities and towns. Michigan is expected to have a shortage of 4,000 to 6,000 physicians by 2020.

In 2009, Central Michigan formed its plan for the College of Medicine, which received 2,765 applications for its inaugural class. Fifty-seven members of the first class are from Michigan, including four from the Upper Peninsula. Eleven are CMU alumni and 17 are from the Great Lake Bay Region.

The CMU College of Medicine has affiliations with hospitals throughout the state to provide training for students and, potentially, residency opportunities after graduation.

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