The University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine held its annual White Coat Ceremony on Oct. 17 to celebrate the Class of 2023’s transition from classroom to clinics. The event marked the veterinary students’ successful advancement into the clinical portion of their training.
“They are closer to the end than they are to the beginning of their four years of professional training,” Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs Angela Tennison, DVM, told the crowd of well-wishers gathered in Jesse Auditorium on the MU campus.
The 119 members of the class will spend the next 19 months working in the Veterinary Health Center’s Equine, Food Animal and Small Animal Equine hospitals, the Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, and in private practices and public agencies where they will undertake preceptorships on their way to completing their doctor of veterinary medicine degree.
The first two years of preclinical training provided them with a foundation in biomedical sciences and included courses in anatomy, physiology, cell and molecular biology, pathology, pharmacology, microbiology, virology and toxicology. They also learned fundamentals in clinical disciplines that they will need for the rest of their veterinary education including anesthesiology, clinical pathology, radiology, public health and medicine and surgery.
For the ceremony, students selected a family member, friend or mentor to present and assist them into their laboratory coats as they crossed the auditorium stage. Marcy Hammerle, DVM, president of the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association, and Julie Braun, MVMA executive director, presented each student with a lapel pin and a name badge that were provided by the MVMA Foundation.
CVM Dean Carolyn Henry, DVM, MS, commended the group for their resilience in pursuing their studies during the pandemic.
“Who could have imagined how our world would change in the months after you began your professional curriculum? You were called upon to adapt to a completely unexpected set of circumstances,” she said, “You had to adjust to new ways of learning while your instructors simultaneously worked to transform our teaching models.”
John Dodam, DVM, MS, PhD, chairman of the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery, welcomed the students across the parking lot to begin work in the Veterinary Health Center and Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory. He told the cohort that while they may have taken their last final exam, they still had tests in their future, many of which would be administered by worried clients.
“Instead of an essay exam, you may have to explain the nature of a problem to a farmer, and then provide that farmer with a rational solution that works in his or her production system.”
Class President Milan Piva provided the response on behalf of her peers.
“When I think of what it means to be a veterinarian, the words resilient, flexible and compassionate come to mind,” she said. “Our class exemplifies the meaning of these words. We overcame many obstacles unique to our didactic experience that the previous classes did not have, and I have no doubt in all of your abilities to conquer anything that lies ahead.”
She continued, “Most importantly, remember to have grace and patience with yourself, to continue living our class values of respect, professionalism and kindness, and always know that no matter where you are, your Mizzou family has your back. Congratulations on your perseverance and hard work. Now, let the countdown to graduation begin!”