Tuesday, August 14, 2018

White Coat Ceremony

Last week I attended something called "white coat ceremony." This is where 150 grown people are dressed by other grown people on a stage in front of a crowd of grown people.

The whole thing felt a little like a premature celebration of achievement. But it's apparently a big deal for medical students. Just before they start classes, they have this introductory event where they are bequeathed white coats that are perfectly tailored and stylish on the women but kind of look like boxy Walmart Halloween costumes on most of the men.

Skylar invited his parents, who flew to Salt Lake City, to attend the event. My parents went as well.

It was TWO HOURS long. It was kind of like a graduation. There was this whole procession thing where all of the new students walked in as the most dramatic music I have ever heard in my entire life played. Several school administrators and faculty stood on the stage and one-by-one took the podium to give speeches about how special and amazing all of these new students were.

If you've ever wondered why so many doctors have huge egos, you should go attend one white coat ceremony.

Then each person was called up, one at a time, so someone could help them put on a white coat. This took a full eternity.

Once everyone was cloaked in the robes of their new cult, they all stood and swore their allegiance to Satan and this freaked me out so much that I swear to you I instinctively started scanning all of the exits to see if they were being blocked.

Bob was at least as irreverent as Skylar and I were (Skylar texted me sarcastic commentary of every minute of the show in real time). Bob told me halfway through the third speech that he was really hoping someone would have a heart attack so he could yell "are there any doctors in the house?!" Then he laughed to himself quietly over this one joke for the next hour, which is how I know we are definitely related.

I guess the ceremony exists at least for my mother and Skylar's mother, who were verging on tears for the entirety of the thing. Cathie told me several times throughout the day in her most Cathie way that "it's already a huge accomplishment that he even got here, and no matter how this whole thing turns out he should be PROUD!"

Maybe I'm burned out with academic pomp and circumstance. Or maybe I'm just exhausted at the thought that I attended my first day of law school TEN YEARS ago, and now here I am, sort of, in a way, starting something similar all over again.

Look. I know. I'm not the one going to med school. And I used to roll my eyes at all of those spouses of students who would say "we are in law school" or "we got accepted into such and such school" when their wife or husband was in my class.

But now that I'm being quite inconvenienced by the whole affair, I just have to say: we totally got accepted into medical school and we are totally starting it right now and I will totally give everyone free physicals and minor surgeries when we finish it.

After the ceremony I told Skylar that I thought it was boring and I was tired and he better never make me go to something like that again.

Well, and that maybe I drank some of the Kool-Aid. Because I guessed that I was pretty proud of him, too.

~It Just Gets Stranger


  1. Somehow that white coat looks just RIGHT on Skylar!! Best of luck to him!!!

  2. I was sitting through a white coat ceremony about 4 years ago when my husband started optometry school, so I feel your pain. It was combined with homecoming stuff and upperclassmen awards, so it took FOREVER. (They got smart and don't combine them anymore.) Luckily, our last name starts with A, so my husband was one of the first to go, and we didn't have kids yet, so I just scrolled through Facebook for the rest of the white coats.

    Oh, but the music. Rumor has it something went wrong with the original music and someone's iPod was the last-minute replacement. All I know is suddenly there was this simultaneously dramatic and relaxing wooden flute music blasting through the speakers. I fully expected the cast of The Lion King on Broadway to come down the aisles instead of a bunch of old optometrists and the incoming class. Or Pocahontas. She wouldn't have been out of place, either.

    Oh, and congrats, Skylar!

  3. Having been to TWO freaking white coat ceremonies in my life, I can confirm, nay, OVERfirm that they are terrible. This post doesn't do the experience justice. I basically had to go on Xanax after each one. NOT THAT WE KNOW WHAT XANAX IS.

  4. “We” went to medical school years ago (2004?) and I can attest that the best part of being a doctors significant other is the free medical checkups for myself and our kids. And the money.
    Skyler looks amazing in his white coat.

  5. I'm just here for Bob's joke. I el-oh-eled in the office.

  6. “ white coats that are perfectly tailored and stylish on the women but kind of look like boxy Walmart Halloween costumes on most of the men.“ Look, Eli. We’ve been stalker and stalkee for a while now. I’m not trying to tell you that you’re wrong. And I am not trying to hit on your guy. But listen, if boxy Walmart Halloween costumes looked that good on anyone, we’d all be wearing them on the regular. Unless Walmart has updated and improved the look and fit of their seasonal costumes, I’m not sure we’re looking at the same picture of guy in white coat . Have you... had your eyes checked recently? Tell Duncan his five Roses say hi!

    1. Who said Sky is wearing one of the men’s coats in that picture?

    2. Ha! Ok, so here's the thing. I can't tell if you're kidding or not because I have trust issues with people because my whole life people have loved saying things to me that they know I will believe just so they can laugh at me later. It's been a whole thing my whole life. Also, apparently I know nothing about doctors and their white coats. In your wording, you clearly say that the women look tailored and stylish and the men look like boxes from Walmart you buy at Halloween. Or close to that. So... are you teasing me, sir? Do they actually make men's coats and women's coats? I just assumed they were like the t-shirts they hand out at camp, you know, different sizes but all the same cut. Is everyone laughing at me? (Actually, as much as I have been laughed at in my life, I have learned to laugh along with everyone. But then at the end of the day sometimes I'm still really not sure if I had been right or not the whole time. THIS is what drives me more crazy than being laughed at.) Again, I feel like I sound like I need therapy.

    3. Ok, truth: yes, there are gender-specific coats. The women's coats are fitted around the waist and actually look flattering. The men's coats are boxy, not helped by the fact that most men buy a size or two larger than they should. Sky got a coat that actually fit him and he looked better in his than most. But don't tell him I said that.

    4. Sincerely, thank you. Also, wink wink.

    5. FYI, Amy Rose, I have the same trust issues, but I think its more pronounced in people I don't know very well. And since I've been a reader/fan/hopefully internet friend of Eli's for several years I feel somewhat confident in my understanding of Eli's tone. But put me in a room of sarcastic acquaintances, and I will feel more uncomfortable than a fish in a barrel trying to avoid being shot.

    6. Let's hang out, Sarah RB! It's so funny actually though because I am more nervous about this issue around people that know me well - because they are the ones that know exactly how to trick me - and it's always SO FUNNY. People that don't know me as well haven't caught on to how extremely literal I can be, and how naive and that's a really fun combination for people once they have figured it out. Oh, and I am super innocent too - this caused endless amounts of fun for my male friends in college - the Air Force, non Mormon ones mainly. They were super protective of me, but also loved to poke at my innocence to see just how far it went.

  7. Okay so this is just basically inexcusable nosiness and you can feel free to ignore, but... the section where you say "we got into med school" and equate your relationship to a marriage... is that gonna happen? I think there are some Strangers who would love to crash your reception.

    And Cathy, my favorite part of this story was reading how proud you are of Skyler and seeing how you obviously love and support him and Eli, just like a good MIL should. I found it very, very sweet. And obviously who wouldn't want Cathy McCann for a mother in law???

  8. When people compliment him on the coat is his response "Thanks, it's got pockets!" cause that would totally be me. Also that photo of him made me think of Alanis Morissette's song Hand In My Pocket and now that's stuck in my head, so thanks for that.

  9. Congrats to you both! You should get a white coat too. Anyone who survives that ceremony deserves one. Also, is he going to NYU now? Free tuition!!