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UB's new doctors get their long white coat

WBFO's Mike Desmond

It is official for 180 University at Buffalo Medical School graduates embarking on new careers. During a ceremony Tuesday at the Center for Tomorrow, they put on the full-length white coats worn by doctors - not the short coat worn by medical students - and swore an ancient oath.

Just after midnight Friday, these doctors will become first-year residents: the start of training for the medical field in which they plan to spend their professional lives. Some of those new residents will spend seven years training for their specialty.

As families and children looked on, the new doctors swore to obey the rules of being doctors and residents at UB. They also heard doctors tell what being a resident is like.

Dr. Kristina Warner is days away from finishing her first year as an obstetrics and gynecology resident. She told the graduates some of her lessons.

"You can't be a great physician or a great provider if you don't understand your own needs," she said. "I feel like a lot of times physicians give a lot of themselves and don't take time to make sure that they build themselves up so that they can do that. So I would definitely say to make sure to take care of yourself in the process."

Warner's goal is to practice medicine in gynecological oncology: women being treated for cancer in their reproductive organs. She also encouraged the new doctors to learn to work as a team.

Credit WBFO's Mike Desmond
The Class of 2017

"Rely on the team," she said. "Everything is very intentional. The training is intentional and it is staged because everyone expects you to meet your mark at each stage of the process. So, if you are ever overwhelmed with the decision making or you don't know what you ought to be doing to help a patient, make sure that you call upon your team. Medicine is a huge, huge team sport."

The Graduate Medical Education program holds this special ceremony annually to stress the importance and symbolism of the long white coat.

"With the long white coat comes a lot of responsibility and it is very overwhelming at times because there is so much to learn in this process and at times I don't feel like I know everything, which I think is quite normal," said Warner. "Day by day, I'm trying to learn as much as I can so that I feel worthy in wearing this long white coat."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.