For many medical students, the White Coat Ceremony is an important milestone. During the ceremony, a white coat is placed on each student's shoulders and often the Hippocratic Oath is recited, signifying their entrance into the medical profession. However, the University of Minnesota Medical School’s Class of 2024 did not have the opportunity to experience this sacred tradition when they started medical school in the fall of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic canceling all in-person events. Now two years into their medical school journey, the class of 2024 on the Twin Cities campus is celebrating the tradition and receiving their white coats. 

Among those students is Meg Crosby. Originally from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Crosby’s interest in the medical field started with her family. 

“My dad actually passed away from cancer when I was young. The experience of losing my dad to this illness was my first real introduction to the field of medicine. As an eight-year–old, I didn’t understand what it meant to be sick with cancer,” Crosby said. “I believe I was drawn to science, more specifically biology, because this allowed me to develop my understanding of that experience.”

Crosby pursued an undergraduate degree in biology. After graduating from college, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to pursue a career in medicine or research. Her decision was informed by an opportunity she had to complete research at the U of M in an oncology laboratory. 

“Working in the lab gave me a chance to explore a little further into different areas, such as gene therapy and cancer immunotherapy,” she said “It was a great experience and I learned so much, but I did feel myself longing for a more direct person-to-person interaction. This and the opportunity to be a scribe in an emergency department led me to pursue medicine.”

Crosby chose the U of M Medical School to continue her medical education because of her familiarity with the campus, her personal research experience and the importance of being close to family.

Due to COVID-19’s impact on the White Coat Ceremony, Crosby and many other second-year U of M medical students are receiving their white coat two years later. 

“I think the White Coat Ceremony is a meaningful moment in my medical education. Despite the delay, I am excited to share this experience with my family. This year, we lost my step dad to Alzheimer’s disease, so it is a little bittersweet as his presence and support will be missed at this ceremony.” 

As for Crosby’s future endeavors, she is currently undecided. Based on her clinical experiences, she finds herself being drawn to a more clinic-based type of practice. “I really like the chance to form longer, meaningful connections with your patients and create relationships built upon trust,” she said.

One field she is drawn to in particular is physical medicine and rehabilitation. She enjoys the variety of outpatient and inpatient settings in this specialty. 

“I like that there is a chance to really make a difference and improve patients' quality of life,” she said “I think at the end of the day, that is the most important part.”