„I would like to help people” – Pécs medical students about donning the white coat

29 September 2023

Donning the white coat when starting clinical studies after finishing the preclinical stage is a visible milestone in the life of medical students. The article of clothing symbolises the job itself, but for many students, it is more than a simple milestone signalling their academic progress. We chatted with students about their experiences on this day.

This year, the White Coat Ceremony was organised for the 8th year on the 15th of September at the University of Pécs Medical School: multitudes of students were able to don the symbolic coat during the ceremony organised by the English-German Student Council in the Aula of the old main building.

“Both my parents and grandparents are doctors, so I have been surrounded by medicine my whole life. Conversations at home were often centred around medicine and cases, and I was interested in them even as a small child, and they made me curious about the human body” – says Pytel Panna, third year medical student. She has made the decision in her childhood to continue the family tradition; help and heal people, and influence her surroundings positively.

Both of her brothers have chosen this profession too, and the oldest already has his diploma; so she knew that completing the preclinical module will not be easy.

“Many say that the first two years at the Medschool are the bogeyman, so I am very excited to be done with that. I am excited for the clinical subjects and to get an insight into various specialities and really start learning about healing” – she added.

“Putting on the white coat was an honour. I feel like our teachers have really recognised our work so far with this, and they think we are worthy and able to work with patients and help their treatments” – she highlighted. And since 6 years is a long time, this is also motivation and recognition for her.

Alexander von Thadden applied to the UP Medical School’s German Language general medicine course from the German city of Bonn. As a third year student, he was also able to participate in the ceremony.

“I have been a volunteer firefighter since I was 10, and this is how I was introduced to first aid and rescue at a very young age. I have always liked dealing with people, helping them, but I have always felt the need to study. After having an internship in a hospital, I was sure that medicine was my calling. I want to help people, and I want to be as good at it as possible” – he said. He added, the the White Coat Ceremony was very important to him, since it shows that he has passed the first milestone of his studies, but also signals that he will need to face new challenges during the clinical module. It also shows that he is closer to becoming a doctor, since he and his peers now wear the same coat as professors do.

“The logo embroidered on the coats does not only show belonging, but also the faith others put in us. Now it is our turn to show that we are worthy of that faith, and we have to continue our studies with the best of our knowledge, determined and humble” – added Alexander von Thadden.

“The year opening ceremony meant that we could start our studies, the White Coat Ceremony signals that now we really are medical students” – said Woojae Jung, who came to the English program from South Korea.

Since both of his parents are doctors, he knew since his childhood that he wanted to choose this profession. The ceremony of putting on the white coat is a milestone for him, since it symbolises entry into the higher levels of education. For him, the white coat is the symbol of integrity, ethics and commitment; but also of faith in students and the expectations they face. It personifies the transition into a role where we can have a positive effect on other people.

In general, we can say that the White Coat Ceremony moves every student while also filling them with pride. They can all feel that the white coat does not only symbolise motivation, but also their main mission: becoming a doctor.