The White Coat Ceremony is a significant moment for medical freshmen and marks the official start of their learning journey.

Here, Associate Professor Samuel Tay from NUS Medicine’s Department of Anatomy helps Cowan don his very first white coat.


By Cowan Ho
Phase I Medicine student

The White Coat Ceremony (WCC) has been a rite of passage for the matriculation of first year medical students at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine since 2008. It’s a symbolic moment for us bright-eyed and aspiring youth, giddy with excitement and embarking on our journey to becoming medical professionals.


The memory of the WCC is still vivid in my mind and I am sure it will stay for the many years to come. Half a semester of an increasingly demanding course has gone by. I know the journey would grow more arduous with each passing day; even more so when we graduate and become house officers (while for some of us, national service and the gruelling but rewarding Medical Officer Cadet Course). I know that being perplexed by gross anatomy and being unable to frequently meet my friends from other faculties is just the beginning. I know that many sleepless nights and exhausting shifts await me.


Despite all these, I remain optimistic, looking forward to the future with the same excitement and enthusiasm I felt ever since I dedicated myself to a career in medicine.

Just before that, I had interned at Faith Clinic Toa Payoh with Dr Jeremy Tan, an alumnus of NUS Medicine. Having also explored many other possibilities such as careers with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF), I was at a crossroads when Dr Tan shared his experiences as a medical student and then a physician. He reminded me of the tough journey ahead, but at the same time, also enlightened me on how fulfilling it could be.


In learning to become doctors, we are taught to care. While clinical knowledge comes with the medical degree, it is compassion that makes a doctor a true healer.


That realisation came home powerfully to me when I was helped into my white coat. The fabric was light, but I knew it was an emblem of the heavy responsibilities that my classmates and I were going to learn to shoulder from that day on.