Class of 2026
August 9, 2022

White Coat Ceremony Welcomes Class of 2026

81 Medical Students and 11 Biomedical Sciences Students Join the UCRSOM

Author: Ross French
August 9, 2022

The UCR School of Medicine welcomed 81 new medical students and 11 new biomedical sciences students at the annual White Coat Ceremony, held Friday, August 5, 2022 at the Riverside Municipal Auditorium.

This was the 10th White Coat Ceremony in the school's history and marked the first time that it has been held off campus. It was also the first ceremony since 2019 to be held without any pandemic-related attendance restrictions.

Deborah Deas, M.D., M.P.H., vice chancellor for Health Sciences and the Mark and Pam Rubin dean of the School of Medicine, welcomed the family and friends of the new class. "You have played an integral role in the support system that helped your student achieve the milestone of entering medical school," she said. "Undoubtedly, you will travel the journey with them over the next few years, and beyond."

"Today you are embarking on an important journey – one that will start a lifelong commitment to the study of medicine," Deas told the students before the presentation of their white coats. "The white coat is a powerful symbol of the medical profession – a symbol of healing. It symbolizes the values of Humanism in Medicine: compassion, altruism, respect, excellence, service, integrity and empathy. I encourage you to think about what it means to wear it every day and I hope that you wear it with pride and professionalism."

Deas also recognized the many donors and elected officials whose efforts have made the School of Medicine a reality, including donors Dr. Thomas and Mrs. Salma Haider, whose sponsorship of the Thomas Haider Scholarship Program allowed 27 mission-fit UCR graduates with a guaranteed seat in the Class of 2026.

Javier Sanchez, M.D., president of the San Bernardino County Medical Society and a family medicine doctor at Kaiser Permanente in Redlands, provided the keynote address.

Sanchez shared the story of the moment that he decided to go into medicine. When Sanchez was 11, his mother was rushed to the emergency room with severe abdominal pain. When they arrived, no one in the emergency room spoke Spanish, and no one in the family, besides him, spoke English. So Sanchez became the interpreter, being asked to answer questions about the nature of her pain, then asking detailed questions about her sexual history.

"At the age of 11, I had no knowledge of sex, let alone my mother's sexual history. I felt scared and embarrassed. Luckily, a young Latina nurse started the shift and took over the interpretation," he said. "It turned out my mother had acute appendicitis, and that night after she came out of surgery I knew I wanted to be a doctor and that I would do everything in my power to treat every person with respect and dignity. I did not want another 11-year-old to experience what I had gone through that evening."

Sanchez, who is also a member of the SOM's clinical faculty, lauded the school for the difference it is making in Inland Southern California and commended the students for choosing to be part of it.

"The UCR School of Medicine isn't just talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion, but they are delivering on it," Sanchez said. "You should be very proud to be part of the UCR School of Medicine community, because you will shape the future of the Inland Empire for generations to come."

The new class includes 32 students from groups underrepresented in medicine, 49 from socioeconomically or educationally disadvantaged groups, and 32 who are the first in their family to complete college. Overall, the School of Medicine's total class size increased to 327 medical students, 42 biomedical sciences Ph.D. students, and 26 master's degree students.