McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

A note of confidence

Published: October 15, 2012
Class of 2015 President Perry Gwo addresses the 2012 White Coat Ceremony Classmates in their white coats at the 2012 White Coat Ceremony

First year students of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine crossed the stage Sept. 15 to receive their white clerk’s jacket and be welcomed into the profession of medicine.

But when they returned to their seat, they found something tucked into the pocket of their jacket — a handwritten note to them from a graduate of the medical school.

This year for the first time alumni were asked if they would like to write a note to a beginning student. Many were delighted to respond, enough that each of the 205 new medical students received a different note.

Many of the notes offer encouragement as well as practical advice. Although the alumni were given no direction on what to write, many tell the students to work hard, think independently, look after themselves, have interests outside medicine and to have fun. They warn there will be tears and laughter, but that the McMaster approach to medical education will support them throughout their careers.

Rob Whyte, assistant dean of the undergraduate program and himself a 1997 graduate of the school, said the notes are a marvelous idea.

"For 40 years graduates from McMaster’s medical school have experienced one of the most innovative medical programs in the world, but its relatively unstructured curriculum can create as much uncertainty as freedom. The certainty expressed by our alumni physicians will provide students well-earned confidence in their future success."

Perry Guo, a first year medical student and president of the Class of 2015, said the students will appreciate the notes and he expects many will keep them close to be reread often.

"It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of school," he said. "These words of wisdom from our alumni, who have been through it all, are very heartening."

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