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Student Clinician's Ceremony - Guidelines


The Student Clinician's Ceremony (SCC) provides guidance and support to medical students beginning their clinical rotations. This event, which is developed by students and faculty, aims to address some of the anxiety felt by students entering their clinical years by providing insight, discussing fears and expectations, and revisiting the oath taken during the White Coat Ceremony. The intention of the SCC is to initiate medical students into their clinical years with a support system. The Student Clinician's Ceremony also recognizes outstanding residents through The Gold Foundation's Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Award. Third year students chose up to six residents who have exhibited particularly strong teaching skills and are role models for compassionate, relationship-centered care (list of recent winners). At the ceremony, students describe why each resident was chosen and the residents then address the class of new third year students. A keynote speech, by a prominent and humanistic physician role model is followed by a reception for students, faculty, friends and family. This event is student-generated and encourages second year students to work with third year students and residents. Many schools conclude week or day-long orientation sessions with the SCC.


The Student Clinician's Ceremony (SCC) should be a student-generated event. A working group of second and third year students can be selected to coordinate the SCC and incorporate all of the following components. A faculty advisor is chosen to help facilitate goals and communication.

The ceremony has six primary components:  

  • recitation of an oath or credo to reaffirm values of relationship-centered and compassionate care (usually this is the same oath taken during the White Coat Ceremony).
  • opportunities for current second year students to work cooperatively with current third year students to generate this event.
  • selection of six residents by the current third year class for the Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Award. A cash prize, a certificate, and specially designed gold lapel pin are presented.
  • presentation of a gift to each member of the incoming third year class of a book, handbook or survival guide to encourage students as they advance into their clinical studies.
  • selection of a keynote speaker known as an outstanding role-model by members of the outgoing third year class to give an inspiring address to the incoming class.
  • reception, luncheon or dinner should follow. A meal together with faculty can involve discussions at each table focusing on the challenges of relationship-centered care while learning to become physicians in the current health care environment.

Orientation activities associated with the SCC vary from school to school. These activities may take place on the day of the SCC, during an orientation week prior to the ceremony or even throughout the year leading up to the SCC. Following are examples of these activities:

Patient's Perspective:

Understanding that the patient's needs and perspectives are paramount. Examples of activities that highlight the patient's perspective include:

  • Lectures or shows, such as "Evan Handler: One Man Show", a monologue on one man's illness (outside of ceremony)
  • Giving a book, such as Tuesdays With Morrie, by Mitch Albom
  • A student-made video presentation of interviews with patients and hospital staff
  • Case discussions with residents and faculty that highlight the need to respect the unique needs and perspectives of the patient (outside of ceremony)
  • Skits illustrating doctor-patient issues

Practical Training

(such training may occur at any point during the second year, or during orientation sessions prior to the ceremony)

  • Workshops on basic clinical skills, such as interviewing, performing procedures, note writing, navigating a hospital
  • Talks from residents, clerkship directors, nurses and other hospital personnel on expectations for third-year students
  • Talks from finishing third year students about experiences with patients and staff
  • Programs for spouses and significant others on the expectations and challenges during the clinical years
  • Throughout the second year, panels can be organized on a variety of practical topics
  • Mentoring Program: Current third-year students orient second-year students to the hospital from a student perspective during the year, culminating with the SCC

Integrating the Third Year Student Experience

The students who have just completed the third year can develop any number of ways to reflect on their clinical experience, outside of the ceremony. These may include:

  • Video revealing the trepidation of the third year students as they anticipated that first day in the hospital.
  • Panel discussion by spouses about the impact of the third year rotations on family and personal relationships.
  • The survival guide and awards can be supplemented with other creative means of reflection, including photographs, art, poetry, film or music.
  • Skits or discussions related to building productive relationships with all members of the healthcare team (fellow students, residents, attendings, nurses, and ancillary hospital staff)
  • Any activity which highlights the needs and challenges of the patients, their family members, the senior students, the residents, the faculty and the other health care workers should be included.


Adapted from the Gold Foundation website
Used with permission