7 September 2014

CUHK Hosts First White Coat Inauguration Ceremony
Over 200 Medical Freshmen Pledge to Uphold Medical Professionalism



The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) commits to nurturing medical students with the highest standards of professional conduct and ethics.  Starting from the current academic year, the Faculty has included ‘Bioethics’ in the core curriculum.  The inaugural ‘White Coat Ceremony’ was held yesterday (6 September), in which over 200 newly admitted medical students, led by the Dean of Faculty of Medicine, took the oath to uphold the highest professional ethics and to take good care of patients.

In the White Coat Inauguration Ceremony, the new students, under the witness of their parents, friends and teachers, were conferred white coats which signify their entrance into the medical profession.  Led by Prof. Francis Chan, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, the students took the oath and committed to maintaining the highest standards of professional conduct to care for the patients, and to contribute to society.

In his opening remarks, Prof. Joseph J.Y. Sung, Vice-Chancellor of CUHK and Mok Hing Yiu Professor of Medicine, said the ceremony signified a turning point in the students’ life, ‘When you put on your White Coat for the first time, you will become a different person. You are no longer simply students. You are future doctors. You are joining the ranks of a noble profession that will shape your perspectives, your principles and your sense of values for the rest of your days.’

The public's expectation of the medical profession has been rising.  Prof. Lau Wan-yee, Chairman of the Medical Council of Hong Kong and Choh-ming Li Professor of Surgery – who is responsible for regulating the professional conduct of all local registered medical practitioners – urged the students ‘to place patients’ interest before their own.’ Professor Lau joked, ‘I hope to see you all again in the future, hopefully not in an inquiry against you.’

Before the coating ceremony, Prof. Fok Tai-fai, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of CUHK and Professor of Paediatrics, remarked, ‘By accepting the white coat, you are making a solemn pledge to yourselves and those who are present here as witness that you will accept the responsibilities of medical students.  In many ways, the white coats are a symbol of the importance to the community of the medical profession.  They also represent the trust placed in the medical practitioners by patients.’

After leading the freshmen to take the oath, Prof. Francis Chan, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Choh-ming Li Professor of Medicine and Therapeutics, told, ‘This is not only a pledging ceremony.  You have to bear in mind the words – practice with integrity, honesty, respect and compassion – these are the essential qualities of being a medical practitioner. Some people may see that it’s difficult to teach students not to focus on instant success but on being an ethical person in this materialistic world, especially when they are already tertiary students.  For us, it is not something impossible.’

To better prepare the medical students for possible ethical issues, CUHK established the Hong Kong’s first interdisciplinary centre for bioethics housed in a medical school, and brought bioethics into its core medical curriculum.  It aims to identify, explore, and share knowledge about ethical challenges in health and healthcare, with a focus on the real world environment faced by professionals and community members, including caregivers in contemporary Hong Kong and other world cities. Through public education, research, and community dialogue as well as scholarly exchange, the Centre works to enhance societal awareness of the rapidly evolving field of bioethics and its many practical dimensions. 

In the inaugural ‘White Coat Ceremony’, over 200 medical freshmen are conferred white coats, signifying their entrance into the medical profession.
In the inaugural ‘White Coat Ceremony’, over 200 medical freshmen are conferred white coats, signifying their entrance into the medical profession.

Led by Prof. Francis Chan, Dean of Faculty of Medicine, the medical students take the oath to uphold the highest professional ethics and take good care of patients under the witness of their parents, friends and teachers.
Led by Prof. Francis Chan, Dean of Faculty of Medicine, the medical students take the oath to uphold the highest professional ethics and take good care of patients under the witness of their parents, friends and teachers.

The white coat is a potent symbol for doctors. Putting on their white coats, the medical students will begin an exciting and momentous journey of discovery and learning.
The white coat is a potent symbol for doctors. Putting on their white coats, the medical students will begin an exciting and momentous journey of discovery and learning.