Rite of passage for first year medical students
By Naomi Gitlin
It’s official! On Saturday, July 30, Stritch leadership and faculty welcomed the Class of 2026 at its White Coat ceremony.
Surrounded by friends, family, faculty, and other Stritch community members, 170 first year medical students (M1s) received their short, white coat, a symbol of the medical profession and a rite of passage in medical training. While the class is diverse in many measures, a majority (66 percent) of these physicians-in-training are female. The class ranges in age from 21 to 35 and they represent 28 states – from Alabama and Georgia to New York, South Dakota, and Utah. Forty-seven have earned graduate degrees. Thirteen members of the class are the first in their family to graduate college and two are recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The Stritch Class of 2026 joins a school with a long and proud tradition. In the past 111 years, Stritch has graduated more than 10,000 physicians. Many have become leaders in their specialty at some of the nation’s most recognized hospitals and health care systems. They have pursued their calling to use their talents to care for others, to contribute to advancements in medicine, and to model compassion, respect, service, and trustworthiness.
Doctors have worn white coats for more than 100 years. Prior to that, doctors often wore black coats to reflect the somber nature of their profession and to hide stains that would result from caring for patients. At Loyola University Medical Center, our academic medical center partner, various specialties have selected different colors to represent their departments – such as gray, white, and blue.
Dean and Chief Diversity Officer Sam J. Marzo and Vice Dean of Education Dr. Gregory Gruener (both Stritch graduates) reminded these newly minted “white coats” that wearing the white coat is a tremendous responsibility. “We hope you continually realize what a gift you are to those patients from who you both will learn and answer the call to serve.”