Aspiring doctors from the The University of Hong Kong’s Medical Faculty (HKUMed) class of 2027 and 2026 were inducted into the medical profession with a White Coat Ceremony on Sunday, marking an important milestone in their careers.
This annual event for Year 1 Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) students took on a greater significance as the Year 2 students, who missed out on experiencing this step in their medical careers in person owing to the pandemic, were invited to for their own face-to-face ceremony.
After a solemn procession into the Grand Hall, Professor Gabriel Leung, Dean of Medicine, welcomed the MBBS students into the HKUMed and broader medical family, calling the ceremony the “merely the beginning of the journey”.
Professor Leung emphasised that doctors should not be motivated by pursuit of personal gain, but always focus on the people in their care.
“We are inducting you today, not just into the medical family but in fact into an aristocracy,” he said. “It’s an aristocracy of merit, it’s an aristocracy of caring. It’s an aristocracy because it’s a circle of privilege. But it is the privilege to serve and the privilege to care for patients. It is not the privilege to make good for yourselves and yourselves only.”
He reminded the future doctors to not lose sight of the fact that caring is central to the career path they are embarking upon.
“We want you to be at the very top of what you do, not because of your vanity to be the best, but because doing your best is going to give your patients the best chance of recovery and healing,” he said.
“So this is what the white coat ceremony is about. It is a ceremony that celebrates your achievements but at the same time reminds you to be ever humble. Because you have a sacred mission that is to be the best for your patients and your society”
Professor Leung also took the opportunity to outline HKUMed’s expansion plans to the parents and school principals present as the Faculty celebrates the 135th anniversary of its founding.
The rite of passage for the MBBS students saw the Faculty’s teachers and alumni help them don their white coats, passing on the traditions of the profession to the next generation.
The students then joined Professor Leung to recite the Declaration of Geneva, which begins with the lines: “As a member of the medical profession: I solemnly pledge to dedicate my life to the service of humanity; the health and well-being of my patient will be my first consideration; I will respect the autonomy and dignity of my patient.”
Wong Ka Lam, MBBS 2027, said the event made him feel proud to start on the path to becoming a doctor.
“This occasion was quite solemn and conducted in a serious manner. And it makes me feel honoured and grateful that I can attend with my friends and family members,” he said.
“The occasion reminds me to stay humble as a medical student and I hope I can work hard to overcome the challenges to graduate in six years.”
Nura Yip, MBBS 2027, said she was excited to begin her medical degree and appreciated the chance to celebrate this milestone with her classmates.
“It’s fun to meet everyone here and it’s nice having new friends in medical school because it’s going to be a long ride,” she added.
Year 2 Students made up for the limited time spent socialising during the pandemic by taking the opportunity for group photographs with their classmates after the event.
Shanice Ng, MBBS class of 2026, said the ceremony felt more significant in person, compared to the Zoom event last year.
“It feels much more authentic in person and you get to see your whole cohort in comparison to last year online,” she said after the ceremony. “It officially feels like a rite of passage today.”
Ms Ng said she was also more aware of what lies on the path ahead to becoming a doctor, now she’s in her second year.
“Maybe last year I was not as mentally prepared for what’s to come seeing as I hadn’t experienced the hard work of the first year yet”.