V25s Honored in Annual White Coat Ceremony

Cummings School tradition marks rite of passage for third-year veterinary students starting clinical rotations
Students pose for a class photo after receiving their white coats
Cummings School’s V25s pose for a class photo after receiving their white coats. Photo: Jeff Poole, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University

On March 15, third-year students at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University were recognized in the traditional White Coat Ceremony at Worcester Technical High School. One hundred and one honorees received their "white coats," symbolizing the students' entry into clinical rotations.

Cummings School Dean and Henry and Lois Foster Professor Alastair Cribb, D.V.M., Ph.D., FCAHS, opened the ceremony, highlighting the invaluable experience students gain at Cummings School’s teaching hospitals and clinics. 

"Thank you to the faculty and staff for helping our V25s get here today, and thank you to the alumni who have led the way," said Dean Cribb before introducing Tufts University President Sunil Kumar.

President Kumar congratulated the third years and noted that the White Coat Ceremony marks the transition to serving patients. He encouraged the students to do so with compassion, hard work, and integrity. He stressed the importance of patient care, research, and serving the community. 

"Today, you are irrevocably committed to your profession," President Kumar told the V25s. "No doubt you will live up to it—you are "Jumbos," after all."

Melissa Mazan, D.V.M., DACVIM (LAIM), V93, interim associate dean of professional education and professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences, delivered the welcome address. She explained that presenting the white coats represents a significant milestone for the students as they progress from the didactic phase of the D.V.M. program into the clinical phase. She described ceremony traditions, including the third years' reciting the Veterinary Student Oath, written by the V05s, who participated in the first White Coat Ceremony at Cummings School. 

"It's with great pride that I welcome you to the clinical phase of your training," said Dr. Mazan.

The president of the Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA), Dr. Monica Mansfield, stepped to the podium next, welcoming the V25s as the MVMA's newest members. She urged them to practice patience with their clients and described the value of using "intentional soft touch." She demonstrated how to hover hands gently above animals before touching them to "transmit your kindness."

The V25s selected Mike Karlin, D.V.M., DACVS (LA), DACVS (SA), assistant professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences, as the faculty speaker for the ceremony. He reflected on his own White Coat Ceremony and his sense of accomplishment while acknowledging that starting the clinical journey may "seem like a scary endeavor." 

Dr. Karlin advised, "Don't be afraid to be wrong. I'm wrong several times a day. Don't let fear of making mistakes stop you from growing as a veterinarian." He reminded students that an extensive network at Cummings School surrounds them to help them succeed. "You have completed 1,344 hours of lecture, 81 hours of small group, 337 hours of labs, 174 hours of tests—almost 2,000 hours. You are ready, you’ve got this, you will do great, and we'll see you in clinics." 

A standing older individual congratulates a smiling individual wearing a medical white coat..
Family members congratulating newly white-coated student after the ceremony. Photo: Jeff Poole, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University 

Welcoming V25s to clinics, Kyle Rogers, V24, told the students that there would be both good days and challenging days ahead. Some days would make them feel more like doctors than others. He encouraged the students always to be kind to themselves, have fun, and look out for one another.

The white coats were then formally presented to each of the 101 third-year students by Francisco Conrado, D.V.M., M.Sc., DACVP, assistant professor in the Department of Comparative Pathology, and Emily Karlin, D.V.M., DACVIM (Cardiology), V08, assistant clinical professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences.

All V25s then gathered back on stage in their new white coats to say the Veterinary Student Oath, led by Elizabeth Rozanski, D.V.M., DACVIM (SAIM), DACVECC, associate professor in the Department of Clinical Sciences. In the auditorium filled with family, friends, and Cummings School faculty and staff, the students recited:

It is with great honor that we accept our white coats on this special day.  
It is with strength and humility that we shoulder all the responsibility they represent.  
We pledge to use them not as a shield, but a gesture of comfort and hope for those entrusted to our care.  
From this day forward, we will strive to promote lasting alliances in health, maintain professional integrity, and provide compassionate care for all in need.

Dean Cribb offered a final congratulations to the V25s to wrap up the twentieth annual Cummings School White Coat Ceremony.

Three smiling individuals in medical white coats, one holding flowers, stand together.
Three V25 students celebrating after the White Coat ceremony. Photo: Jeff Poole, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University
A group of people standing together smiling as they pose for a picture.
Students and family celebrating after the V25 White Coat Ceremony. Photo: Jeff Poole, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University