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<p>Before the hours of anatomy lectures or late night cram sessions begin, 308 students will gather Saturday at the Murat Theatre in downtown Indianapolis to don an enduring symbol of the profession they desire – the physician&#8217;s white coat.</p>

White Coat Ceremony Welcomes Students to Medical School

Indiana University School of Medicine students from the class of 2012 will participate in the White Coat Ceremony, a tradition for medical students nationwide, at 3 p.m. Aug. 9.

Friends and family will assemble to watch the first-year medical students accept their first white physician’s coat from leaders of the medical community as a symbol of the trust bestowed in the doctor/patient relationship. The students then, in unison, will repeat the physician’s oath pledging to care for patients to the best of their ability.

“This ceremony marks a transformation for first-year students entering medical school,” said Stephen B. Leapman, M.D., executive associate dean for educational affairs, and the speaker at this year’s White Coat Ceremony. “Medical students have a unique responsibility because their dedication to the process of learning, their commitment to professionalism and the attainment of clinical skills and competencies will impact their own lives as well as the lives of the patients they treat.”

Dr. Leapman, who has taught at the school for 31 years, also is a professor of surgery, the Delores and John Read Professor of Medical Education, and the Frank C. and Ruby L. Moore and George T. Lukemeyer Professor at the IU School of Medicine. He will present the keynote lecture, “Thoughts About Our Professional Team.”

This year’s entering class has increased by 14 students from the prior medical school class. In response to national and statewide workforce studies predicting future shortages of medical professionals, the IU School of Medicine is increasing class size by 14 each year for six years. The class of 2011 was the first to expand in response to the study.

Dr. Leapman, who chaired the medical school task force that examined physician workforce in Indiana, said the increase will continue until the entering class reaches 364 students in 2012. The IU School of Medicine currently is the second largest school of medicine in the country.

The eight regional medical school campuses will absorb the additional students. This year, additional students will be assigned to the IU School of Medicine-Muncie (2), the IU School of Medicine-South Bend (6) and the IU School of Medicine-Northwest (6). In 2007, eight additional students were assigned to the Terre Haute center on the Indiana State University campus and six to the Muncie center, where classes are held on the Ball State University campus.

The increase in student numbers benefits the communities at the various medical education centers. Studies show that students are more inclined to establish a medical practice in a community where they have attended medical school or completed their post-graduate residency training, said Dr. Leapman.

“This program expansion is positive for the students and for Hoosiers who will benefit from the increased availability of medical care,” he said.