Sixty-eight members of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry's DMD Class of 2015 and 30 members of its International Dentist Degree Program Class of 2013 received white coats this fall. Students begin seeing patients during their D-1 year under the new curriculum, and the White Coat Ceremony marks students’ eligibility to enter the patient care environment.
Bill Knight, executive associate dean for academic affairs, said at the event that the College that evening would "acknowledge and honor our students as they affirm their commitment to dentistry." Parents, other family members, friends, and faculty were on hand.
College of Dentisty dean Bruce Graham talked to students about "a lifetime promise, the Dentist’s Pledge," Dr. Graham said. "It will have an impact on the next 40 years.
"A pledge is a promise, and a promise is forever,” he continued. "You will promise to devote your life to the betterment of your patients. You promise to put the needs, wants, desires, and interests of your patients before your own.
"Society considers us a profession and trusts us. We are in one of the higher rewarded professions, but this results from the trust it puts in us. Society expects us to put the needs of the patients first, always and forever," Dr. Graham said.
He noted that debt causes a “powerful temptation” to break the Dentist’s Pledge by suggesting treatment that is more than patients need. “There is a subculture that advocates a business model that the dentist is not a healthcare provider but a service provider.
"You have a larger role in society, to advocate for oral healthcare for all Americans, to volunteer. Cherish the rare privilege of caring for others," Dr. Graham concluded.
Chicago Dental Society president Ian Elliott also addressed students that day. He reminded the students that they were "the next generation of leaders in organized dentistry, where you'll find people you wouldn't have met in other circumstances, whom you can learn from and who can help you succeed.
"Treasure the moments," he advised. "The four years will go by so fast."