The white coat carries a certain representation in health care – it symbolizes professionalism, patient trust and a specialized level of clinical expertise. Each year, across the nation, health science students earn their distinction as clinical professionals when they receive their own white coats during a tradition known as the White Coat Ceremony.
Each school and health profession will mark the occasion in their own way and at different points in the clinical training period. For 119 University of Colorado dental students, the White Coat Ceremony was January 17, 2014. That day, 40 International Student Program (ISP) Class of 2015 and 79 traditional Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) program Class of 2016 students received their white coats as a mark of the dental profession in front of nearly 600 fellow students, faculty, family and friends.
“I was really looking forward to the event,” states DDS Class of 2016 President Christopher Klekamp. “It was a big deal and an important milestone on our journey forward as clinicians.”
Klekamp was one of 79 second year DDS students recognized at the ceremony. The traditional DDS program combines four years of classroom, clinical and community-based curriculum, but it is not until the second year that students begin directly serving patients. At CU, the White Coat Ceremony is the official recognition of that transition.
“Before this semester and this ceremony we have been so invested in didactic, lecture based, academic, basic science classes,” states Klekamp. “It was refreshing and exciting to make a mental transition to clinic life.”
The timing of the White Coat Ceremony held a different significance for the school’s 40, first-year ISP students who started their program only last month. The International Student Program is designed specifically for foreign–trained dentists and provides them with a two year, intensive training in both clinical care and advanced skills development, after which they receive a DDS degree.
“This is the most important milestone in my professional life,” states Chetan Patodia, ISP Class of 2015 who plans to absorb as much out of the ISP experience as possible.
“Everything is so comprehensive and the care is so integrated,” he states. “And while students gain mastery in the basics, they learn from real examples shared by the faculty.”
Another ISP student, Jesus Loza Salinas, was a dentist in Peru before moving to the United States four years ago.
“It (my profession) is like a soccer game, with a first half and a second,” states Jesus. “I feel like I am now starting my 2nd half, and can better improve my skills and be one of the best.”
Although a successful dentist in his home country, Jesus felt the need to push himself, to become better at his profession and to improve his skills. That desire led Jesus to leave his practice in Peru, move to the U.S. and begin the extensive preparation necessary to enroll in the CU School of Dental Medicine. Although the four years were critical to improving his mastery of English and science, it was four years that he could not practice as a dentist.
“This is a gift for me,” states Jesus reflecting on the ceremony, “to return to my profession.”
The message of profession was a consistent theme throughout the ceremony. Speakers from three dental societies, the American College of Dentists, the International College of Dentists, and the Pierre Fauchard Academy, each shared their perspective on serving the dental profession and emphasized the duty to the patient.
“Being a dentist is a great career but it does all come back to serving your patients,” states Klekamp. “Caring about them and working for them, not on them.”
Thank you to the organizations who made the White Coat Ceremony possible and to those who advance dental professionalism with their ongoing support of our students:
American College of Dentists, Colorado Chapter – represented by Dr. David Lurye
- International College of Dentists, Colorado Chapter – represented by Dr. Ed Leone
- Pierre Fauchard Academy, Colorado Chapter – represented by Dr. Terry Brewick
- University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine Alumni Association
Visit www.facebook.com/CUDental to view photos from the event.
More about our students:
Christopher Klekamp, DDS Class of 2016 and Class President. A proud Colorado native, Chris was born in Aurora and raised in Littleton. He attended the University of Colorado Boulder where he earned a BA, followed by a MS from Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Although Chris’s father is a dentist, Chris originally wanted to be an entomologist and study bugs. But that changed once Chris began working in his father’s dental office and came to realize how much his father cared about his patients and their lives.
Outside of dental school Chris enjoys running, skiing and playing in the Boulder Concert Band. He is actively involved in his church and volunteers with Camp Wapiyapi, an organization which provides summer camps and activities for families affected by childhood cancer.
Jesus Loza Salinas, International Student Program Class of 2015. Born in Peru, Jesus held a successful dental practice in his home country before moving to the United States four years ago. His initial plan was to live in Florida with family while improving his English and preparing for U.S. dental school. But after only a short period of time, Jesus made plans to leave Florida and move to Colorado. Within his first 24 hours in Colorado, Jesus visited the CU School of Dental Medicine and fell in love, declaring CU is first and only choice for earning his U.S. dental degree.
When he is not busy in school, Jesus enjoy playing soccer and is active in his church community, and both became a source for building new friendships in Colorado. After moving to Colorado, Jesus enrolled in the Community College of Aurora to improve his English and science skills before applying to CU. While at CCA, he earned an associate degree in general studies and built a strong group of supporting advisors and instructors, several of whom attended the White Coat Ceremony January 17.
Chetan Patodia, International Student Program Class of 2015. Born in India as the only son out of three siblings, Chetan spent his childhood in boarding school. He completed his undergraduate dental education in India before moving to the United States to complete a MBA. Following his MBA, Chetan moved to New York City to begin work in dental practice management and while there prepared for advanced training at a U.S. dental school.
Although accepted to other U.S. dental schools, Chetan’s priority was Colorado. As a state school, he knew that he would gain a fair, un-biased education, and in Colorado he could pursue his passions of skiing, hiking and camping. Chetan has skied over 150,000 vertical feet this winter season and has travelled over 10,000 miles visiting many of the western states.