Old Dominion University's School of Medical Diagnostic and Translational Sciences held their sixth annual White Coat Ceremony on May 30. This special occasion celebrated students’ academic achievements and marked their readiness to enter the next phase of their clinical education.

Dr. Harold Riethman, Chair of the School of Medical Diagnostic and Translational Sciences, addressed the audience with a question: "So what’s the big deal about a white coat ceremony?" He explained the profound symbolism of the white coat, representing not only the professional expectations but also the trust and responsibility they now carry. "It’s no longer hypothetical," he said. "There are loved ones, children, people behind the lab tests you’re doing." The speakers at the event collectively emphasized that the white coat symbolizes the transition from classroom learning to clinical practice, highlighting the humility and respect required in their future roles.

Dr. Barbara Kraj, Associate Dean of Education and Innovation for the College of Health Sciences, reflected on the beginnings of this ceremony and the transition from didactic to clinical learning. "There is no healthcare without you," she stated, underscoring the essential role these future professionals will play in the healthcare system.

Rachel Childs, program director for the Medical Laboratory Science program, served as the MC for the event. She acknowledged the efforts of Jenni Rickerson in planning the ceremony and commended the students on their impressive academic journey. "You will get a job," Childs assured, noting the program's nearly 100% job placement rate over the last decade.

Sara Maynard, program director for the Nuclear Medicine Technology program, shared her unique perspective as both an ODU alumna and faculty member. "This is your time to ask questions, learn, explore, and build connections both in the classroom and with your clinic sites," Maynard encouraged, emphasizing the start of their clinical journey and the invaluable skills they will acquire beyond the classroom.

The ceremony also recognized outstanding students with awards and scholarships. Bob Carden, President & CEO at Commonwealth Transfusion Foundation, expressed his sincere gratitude and congratulations to the recipients of the Commonwealth Transfusion Foundation Scholarships, reinforcing the community’s commitment to supporting the next generation of healthcare professionals. Taylor Muñoz received the Association for Diagnostic and Laboratory Medicine (ADLM) Student of the Year Award.

The ceremony concluded with light-hearted superlatives, such as “most likely to contaminate their shoes” and “most likely to discover a new species of bacteria,” adding a touch of fun to the formality.

As these students embark on their clinical journeys, the White Coat Ceremony stands as a testament to their hard work, dedication, and the promising future that lies ahead in the field of medical diagnostics and translational sciences.