Qatar’s future doctors have taken the symbolic first step towards their chosen career by donning the white physician coat.

The 49 students of Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar’s Class of 2021 were presented with their new white coats and stethoscopes in front of their family, friends and WCM-Q faculty and staff, at the Intercontinental Hotel recently. The presentation is a symbolic turning point and marks the moment when students, more than a third of whom are Qatari, begin their four-year medical curriculum at WCM-Q.

Lolwa Al-Theyab, one of the students who participated, has previously completed two years of pre-medical education at WCM-Q. She said that she finds it very exciting to be finally starting the medical curriculum. Lolwa said she chose to embark on a career in medicine because it will give her the chance to help others.

WCM-Q Dean Dr Javaid Sheikh said the White Coat Ceremony is one of the highlights of the academic year and a time of real optimism and pride.

It gives me great pleasure to welcome all of our new students to WCM-Q. The physician’s white coat and stethoscope are hugely symbolic and are recognised throughout the world and it is my honour to present them to our new students. Putting on the white coat for the first time is a defining moment for all doctors. It is the moment when they take their first step into medicine and begin to learn the practical skills that will allow them to heal patients and to make a real difference to their local communities and the wider world.

These trainee doctors are Qatar’s future healers. They will bring innovation, they will conduct new research, they will share their knowledge with others and, most importantly, they will save lives. They are part of the generation that will deliver a world-leading healthcare system for Qatar and the region.’

The ceremony was addressed by Dr Abdul Badi Abou-Samra, Chairman of Medicine and Deputy CMO at Hamad Medical Corporation, Professor of Medicine at WCM-Q, and Chairman of Qatar Metabolic Institute,  in his keynote speech, told the students that wearing the white coat carried many responsibilities.

As a concept, many patients, while they are suffering, will not know the difference between a student, a resident, a fellow and faculty. They may not know who is specialised or sub-specialised. They may not know which department or sub speciality they have been admitted to. What matters to them is that they came to a healthcare facility and everybody wearing a white coat is an important healthcare professional from whom they expect care.

The boundaries of graded responsibilities, of departments and sub specialties, mean nothing to the patient. They expect compassionate care and they should get what they expect. When you walk in a hospital with a clean, shiny white coat bearing the symbol of a prestigious medical college, many patients would see in you a scholar coming to specifically help them. My advice is to remember this and to imagine that each patient is a family member,  a sister, a brother, a mother, a father, a grandmother or a grandfather.’

The ceremony also welcomed 43 students joining WCM-Q’s six-year medical programme, which integrates two years of pre-medical training and the four-year medical curriculum. 24 students – 19 of whom are Qatari – have joined WCM-Q’s foundation class, a one-year programme intended to be a pathway entry to the pre-medical programme.

The White Coat Ceremony is the finale of WCM-Q’s Orientation Programme, where all of the college’s new students are introduced to the faculty and staff, and learn more about the state-of-the-art facilities that are available to them. They also participate in ‘icebreaker’ sessions, join Q&A panel discussions on career development with qualified physicians, learn more about the curriculum and gain advice about learning strategies, health and safety in the medical environment and legal issues in medicine, among other subjects.

The Class of 2021 will now spend four years training in all aspects of medicine from faculty members based in Qatar and also from Weill Cornell Medicine in New York. They will work directly with patients at WCM-Q’s clinical affiliate Hamad Medical Corporation, and they will also have the opportunity to work at NewYork Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Centre in New York City, one of the world’s foremost university hospitals. If successful in their training they will then receive a US Cornell medical degree.

For more information about the medical programme on offer at WCM-Q, visit their website through this link.