Quillen College of Medicine welcomes the largest class in its history | News

This week, East Tennessee State University Quillen College of Medicine welcomed 79 medical students in the Class of 2025, the largest class in the medical school’s history, during an orientation week that culminated with a traditional White Coat Ceremony on Friday.

“Despite the challenges of the pandemic, which prevented in-person visits and shifted our admissions process to online interviews, we received more applications and conducted more interviews than ever before in the history of Quillen College of Medicine,” said Doug Taylor, associate dean for admissions and records at Quillen.

Earlier this year, Quillen announced that it would increase its class size for the first time in 10 years in order to provide additional students with the opportunity to pursue their dream of a medical education at ETSU. The increase from 72 to 79 new students represents a 9% increase.

This year, Quillen had a record 3,099 applicants — up more than 650 from last year’s record of 2,433. To choose the class of 2025, the admissions committee met virtually with 365 applicants, conducting a total of 730 interviews with these individuals.

The class represents 37 undergraduate institutions, with the greatest number of students coming from ETSU and University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Seventy of the incoming students are Tennesseans, and four are children of Quillen alumni. Nine are veterans of the U.S. military. Eight new students are from underrepresented populations in medicine.

“We have a stellar class, and it has been exciting to be able to finally gather in person and celebrate this rite of passage, which holds a very special meaning for the students,” said Dr. Bill Block, ETSU vice president for clinical affairs and dean of the medical school. “The white coat symbolizes professionalism and empathy in the practice of medicine.”

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.

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.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, last year’s White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2024 was canceled. Therefore, Quillen held a separate White Coat Ceremony earlier this week for the Class of 2024.

Both white coat ceremonies were held in ETSU’s new Martin Center for the Arts. The keynote speaker for the Class of 2024 was Dr. Antonio Rusinol, professor in the ETSU Department of Medical Education. The keynote speaker for the Class of 2025 was Dr. Blair Reece, assistant professor and junior clerkship director in the ETSU Department of Internal Medicine.

To learn more about Quillen College of Medicine, visit www.etsu.edu/com.

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