Earlier this month, Trinity School of Medicine held its white coat ceremony for the January 2019 starting class. Along with the new matriculants, parents, relatives, friends, and other well-wishers gathered to celebrate the day on Trinity’s campus in St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Presiding over the event was Trinity dean Dr. Linda Adkison with guest speakers Vincentian government minister, Hon. Luke Browne, and keynote Dr. Sherian Slater of Milton Cato Memorial Hospital.
After welcoming the new class and their families, Dr. Adkison took a moment to impress upon the group that the theme of the day was going to be the influence of their attitude on all elements of their educations and careers. She noted that as attitude shapes decision and decisions impact lives, it was a critical element of a physician’s toolset that took discipline, effort, and vigilance to master, but through that mastery came the world’s best doctors.
As a representative of the local government, St. Vincent’s minister of health, wellness and the Environment, Hon. Luke Browne continued where Dr. Adkison left off, describing the future physicians’ choice of a school on an island far from home as a commitment to their goals. He was keen to add that St. Vincent and Trinity together recognized that commitment and always sought to match that energy in supporting the students.
Minister Browne noted, “You have come to Trinity at an important juncture in its life,” he said, “the medical school has expanded from purely an MD program to full university status, and is making a strong contribution to medical education around the world. The people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines have also opened their arms to you and welcome you as members of the community, with that welcome comes an expectation for you to succeed and share your gifts with the world.”
Last year’s graduating class, now practicing across the US and Canada, spoke to their new colleagues via a video, showing them where the school will take them and how they felt when they sat in those same seats four years earlier.
The ceremony’s keynote speaker Dr. Sherian Slater is the former head of obstetrics and gynecology at the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital [ed. Trinity’s affiliated teaching hospital]. She continues her service as a practicing physician and as both chief medical officer and acting medical director. A fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Dr. Slater has been a leader in the region for decades and serves on Trinity’s faculty as an assistant clinical tutor of students in the medical school’s first three terms.
Dr. Slater took an engaged approach to her keynote, speaking directly with the students throughout. She began by asking the students about Dr. Arnold Gold’s wisdom in inventing white coat ceremony, noting that, “This ceremony is the beginning of a journey with your classmates, your faculty, your families and the clients. You will be on a journey which will be determined by your attitude. That journey will take you to your destiny. But this destiny will always be influenced by your attitude.”
She was clear that, “Beyond the White Coat, it is to be hoped that not only will you be clinically competent but you would have acquired the skills or the art of communication, empathy, and compassion for your fellow human beings. You have to acquire the love of your patients and a make a real determination to help to resolve human suffering and pain.”
The event concluded with the students receiving their white coats from faculty and Dean Adkison congratulating the recipients with a profound reminder: heed Dr. Slater’s words and always hold fast that attitude influences the choices that determine destiny.