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Quillen College of Medicine welcomes Class of 2023

JOHNSON CITY (July 29, 2019) — East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine welcomed 73 medical students in the Class of 2023 during an orientation week that culminated with a traditional White Coat Ceremony today.

“This ceremony is a rite of passage that holds special meaning for our students,” said Doug Taylor, associate dean and director of admissions and records at Quillen. “It is so much more than receiving a piece of clothing. The real significance of the white coat is what it represents – professionalism and empathy in the practice of medicine.”

The Class of 2023 was selected from approximately 2,400 applicants. The class represents more than 30 undergraduate institutions, and all but five new students are Tennessee residents. Two incoming students are children of Quillen alumni, and two have spouses who are currently enrolled at Quillen.

The White Coat ceremony was established in 1993 by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and was the brainchild of Gold, who believed that medical students should be introduced to the white coat and what it represents as they enter medical school, rather than when they exit, which had been the case historically.

Quillen College of Medicine held its first White Coat Ceremony in 1997. That year, the entering class of students was presented with their white coats during a luncheon on the first day of orientation. Since that time, the ceremony has become the climax of Quillen’s new student orientation program.

Quillen alumni have embraced the tradition, helping to make the ceremony especially meaningful for new students. Each year, alumni have the opportunity to donate a gift of $100 or more, which supports a white coat for a student and helps fund the reception after the ceremony, as well as other student activities throughout the year.

“Our alumni are extremely generous and supportive of this special moment in the lives of our first-year medical students,” said Dr. Thomas Kwasigroch, associate dean for student affairs at Quillen.

In addition to the monetary gifts, the alumni support also comes in the form of notes that the donors write to the incoming medical students. The notes are sealed in envelopes and placed in the pockets of the white coats. Upon receiving their white coats, the new students open their envelopes and read the encouraging messages.

This opening of envelopes foreshadows a much-anticipated event that occurs when the students finish their medical school education – the opening of envelopes to find out where they will complete their residency.

“Throughout their time at Quillen, our students come full circle, from this special White Coat Ceremony of welcome to another important moment when they find out where they will go after they finish medical school,” said Taylor. “We look forward to watching what the Class of 2023 will accomplish while they are here.”

While usually held at ETSU’s Martha Culp Auditorium, this year’s White Coat Ceremony was held at Science Hill High School due to the renovations at the D.P. Culp Center. This year’s keynote speaker was Major Joshua C. Combs, M.D.

A Quillen alumnus, Combs currently serves as a clinical fellow in reproductive endocrinology and infertility at the National Institute of Health/Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Other orientation events that occurred earlier in the week included a welcome picnic for students and their families, facility tours and informational gatherings. The students officially began their classes on Wednesday, July 17.

To learn more about Quillen College of Medicine, visit

Media contact
Melissa Nipper

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