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WCM-Q welcomes new medical students with White Coat Ceremony

The White Coat Ceremony is the culmination of WCM-Q’s orientation period when new students are welcomed to the college
The White Coat Ceremony is the culmination of WCM-Q’s orientation period when new students are welcomed to the college

Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar’s Class of 2023 have donned the white coat and stethoscope of the doctor for the first time at a ceremony in front of faculty, family and friends.

In total 40 students are starting the four-year medical curriculum, eight of whom are Qatari, and the white coat is symbolic of the humanity, perseverance and academic excellence that they will need as a physician.

The students will now follow the same curriculum as that operated in Weill Cornell Medicine – New York and will be taught by both faculty at WCM-Q, and faculty in New York via video link. As they become more experienced, they will begin training in partner institutions and will also have the opportunity to work under the guidance of experienced doctors at New York-Presbyterian Hospital – one of the world’s foremost teaching hospitals.

If successful in their training, they will then receive a Cornell University medical degree.

Dr. Javaid Sheikh, dean of WCM-Q, said the White Coat Ceremony is one of the highlights of the college’s academic year and is a memorable and significant milestone for the trainee doctors.

Dr. Javaid Sheikh told the trainee doctors they are the future of Qatar's healthcare system.

Dr. Sheikh added: "The white coat is recognized throughout the world as a symbol of compassion and healing and it gives me great pleasure to present them to our new medical students.

 “These young people are the very future of medicine in Qatar. During their careers, they will learn new medical techniques and use technology that physicians today can only dream about. They will innovate, they will conduct new research, and they will gain new knowledge, but some things will always remain the same; they will save lives and they will bring hope and relief to those in distress.

 “Together with Weill Cornell’s other alumni, they will be the backbone of Qatar’s medical system, delivering world-class healthcare to all of the country’s citizens for decades to come.”

The White Coat Ceremony is the culmination of WCM-Q’s orientation period when new students are welcomed to the college, meet their classmates and faculty members and learn the standards of professional conduct expected of them. It is also an opportunity to formally welcome students onto the six-year medical program, which integrates two years of pre-medical training with the four-year medical curriculum. This year, 46 students were inducted, with each being presented with an Ibn Sina pin, Ibn Sina being one of the most significant physicians of the Islamic Golden Age.

The students and assembled audience heard from the keynote speaker, WCM-Q alumna Dr. Sarah Al-Khawaja, who holds the position of chief resident, dermatology and venereology, at Hamad Medical Corporation, and is a clinical associate in dermatology at WCM-Q.   

Dr. Sarah Al-Khawaja delivered the keynote speech.

Dr. Al-Khawaja told the medical students: “Medicine is a journey, not only a journey to acquire knowledge and progress professionally, but a journey of self-discovery. How can we use our time and our talents to help others? You don’t need to have the answer to this question now, but you do need to have and cultivate the intellectual curiosity to ask and to find out.”

Aljazi Al-Khalifa was one of those to receive her white coat and is in the first year of the medical curriculum.

She said: “I’m really happy and proud that I’ve arrived at this moment after three years of hard work. This is what I’ve been waiting for. The foundation and pre-medical programs were difficult but manageable with the support of my family and friends, and receiving the white coat is great motivation to continue working.”

“I’m now just looking forward to applying what I’ve learned and becoming the doctor I know I want to be.”

Mohammed Al-Mohamedi has just joined WCM-Q on the six-year medical program, so will spend the first two years on the pre-medical curriculum.

Mohamed said: “I first heard about Weill Cornell when I was at school, and there was a group of students applying so I joined them. I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, ever since I was young. I know for a fact that it’s going to be difficult; I’ve only been here for a few days, but I can tell it’s not going to get any easier. However, becoming a doctor means I can help other people, along with my family.”

Sang Gon Yi chose to join WCM-Q despite originally hailing from South Korea.

Gon Yi said had attended high school in Malaysia and had applied to WCM-Q because of its six-year medical program.

 He said: “Medicine is always something I’ve been looking at but in the US you have to take a four-year undergraduate degree and then another four years at medical school but at WCM-Q it’s six years in total and you can then apply for residencies in the US."

He added that the atmosphere of WCM-was also a reason for selecting the college.

 “In Korea I think it’s very competitive and there’s no sense of community but having been here for just two weeks I can see that everyone works really well together.”