The University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine Class of 2024 celebrated their progression into clinical training during the annual White Coat Ceremony held Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022, at the Missouri Theatre. The ceremony is held to celebrate the successful completion of their didactic studies and the beginning of their hands-on training in the Veterinary Health Center, Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory and during preceptorships in private practices and public agencies on their way to completing their DVM degree.
The 120 students selected a family member, friend or mentor to present and assist them in donning their laboratory coats. Prior to the coat presentation, UM President Mun Choi, PhD, addressed the class and encouraged the members to take a moment to tell the individual who would present their coat why they had asked them to participate in the ceremony. He reminded the students that they all bring different experiences and backgrounds, and he encouraged them to use their unique perspectives to enrich the college and to engage and learn from each other.
CVM Interim Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, Leah Cohn, DVM, PhD, served as the emcee and welcomed the crowd. She spoke to the diversity of careers within the veterinary profession that the students should explore during the next 19 months of their education,
“I know all our students have been looking forward to this day, not only because they will finally enter clinics, but because this also means they are closer to the end then they are to the beginning of their four years of professional training,” she said. “At this time, we have chosen to present the traditional white laboratory coat as a symbol of medicine and surgery. Please recognize the diversity and all the professional choices this coat represents, including those that require coveralls and boots rather than lab coats.”
Cohn also presented a white coat to the family of Breanna Killian, a member of the class who passed away last year as the result of an accident. “Breanna will always be a part of this class and our hearts,” she said.
CVM Dean Carolyn Henry, DVM, MS, told the students that they are ambassadors for the college and the veterinary profession.
“Your success as a veterinarian will have more to do with your interactions with people than any other single variable,” she said. “This will become particularly important as it pertains to your ability to communicate with clients, demonstrate empathy, and provide quality service.”
She closed with words of advice: “When you fail, be resilient. When you succeed, be humble. When you see others struggling, be compassionate. When you’ve been helped, be grateful. And when you take that first step in your white coat, take a deep breath, and enjoy the moment. This is a moment in your journey that you have been dreaming about for a long, long time, and you are so very deserving! Your mindset is everything, and the best is yet to come.”
Class President Courtney Rice delivered a response on behalf of her classmates who began their veterinary curriculum during the early days of the pandemic.
“We were the class that started veterinary school during COVID, watching the majority of lectures on Zoom and Panopto from our own homes,” she said. “If online undergrad was a new beast, online vet school was like a final boss. It was a struggle to find a rhythm in this new learning environment. And yet, despite starting with minimal in-person interactions, we managed to form a community which has only grown stronger with each passing IP. We’ve faced challenges in veterinary school that nobody could have anticipated, and it is comforting to know that we have each other’s backs both now and moving forward.”
Department of Veterinary Medicine and Surgery Chairman John Dodam, DVM, PhD, offered the class a welcome “across the parking lot,” as they begin their rotations in the VHC’s hospitals and the diagnostic lab.
Edward Migneco, DVM, president of the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association and Julie Braun, executive director of MVMA, presented each student in the class with a name badge, courtesy of the Missouri Veterinary Medical Foundation.