Yet throughout this week, at white coat and pinning ceremonies held across the campus and the state, UNMC's colleges and schools will inaugurate a new class of students. And putting on that white coat will be a very important moment -- the culmination of years of hard work, with years of hard work still ahead.
"The white coat ceremony is important for several reasons," said Gary Yee, Pharm.D., associate dean of the College of Pharmacy.
"First, it welcomes students to the profession. Secondly, it is a public acknowledgement by the students of the responsibilities of the profession and their commitment to maintain professional attitudes and behaviors in the presence of family, friends and faculty."
"It's a perfect opportunity for the deans to emphasize the values of integrity, ethics and respecting the rights of patients," he said.
For College of Medicine student Elizabeth Pflug, those charges made the ceremony "a very meaningful initiation into medicine.
"I can't say I felt emotional -- it was more of a solemn affair," Pflug said. "It was an emotional experience for my parents. My mom cried."
Visiting with proud parents of students is an enjoyable part of the ceremony, said Kyle Meyer, Ph.D., senior associate dean of the School of Allied Health Professions.
The coats symbolize "the beginning of a professional philosophy and approach to clinical care," said Juliann Sebastian, Ph.D., dean of the College of Nursing, "and it is an opportunity to welcome students to their journeys toward a career in nursing."
Each individual coat is sponsored by a UNMC alum -- inside a pocket of their white coats, students find the name of a person who sponsored the coat. It's a tradition that Pflug found very meaningful.
"That promoted a nice sense of encouragement and community," she said.
Dentistry student Aaron Stroh said he was "ecstatic" to put on the white coat for the first time.
"It has made me more excited for a career in dentistry, and the excitement of returning this fall as a D2," Stroh said.
"And wearing that white coat again gives me a smile from ear to ear."