To the Future of Medicine

I have to admit—although I would not for all the world start over again—that I envy you. There are a few times in our lives, a very few, when we have a dramatic demarcation of how our life proceeds from one adventure to the next. Receiving your white coat is one of those sharp and memorable times. You are freshly-minted, new, a tabula rasa.

You are setting off on one of the most challenging, rewarding, profound and awesome experiences of your life. I want you to always remember that you are not doing this alone. Beyond whatever support you will receive outside the University, you have faculty members who have been charged with your education.

I’m sure you will not agree with all of them or like all of them, but learning how to deal with them will make you a better physician. I am also sure that you will find role models, mentors and perhaps even future colleagues here. We are here to support you.

Becoming a doctor is not easy, but I’m sure you didn’t choose this profession because you thought it was. Always remember, you will be defined not by how you sail through things in life, but how you work through the difficulties. Cultivate your resilience.

No matter how smart, how good, how well-prepared you are, you will make mistakes—you will fail. And when you do, look that mistake or failure straight in the eye, acknowledge it, learn from it and move on. You are not your mistakes. We all make them. We forget that in medicine sometimes, but it’s true. You are still a good and valuable person. Be kind to yourself and remember to extend that kindness to others.

I am—the Medical School is—glad you’re here. You are the future of medicine, the ideas of tomorrow, and the world of compassion yet to come.

Congratulations on receiving your white coat and best wishes for your years of study and your years of practice beyond.