White coat ceremony welcomes dentistry class of 2017

Dental students mark milestone in their education and accept responsibility to provide patient-centred care.


(Edmonton) It’s official: the University of Alberta's dentistry class of 2017 formally donned their new white lab coats during the annual White Coat Ceremony.

Wearing the coat signifies a milestone in the dental students' education–the transition to clinical training and patient care–but the coats also come with an important message and responsibility.

“I challenge all of you to be the best clinician, the best oral health doctor, you are capable of being. It is time to change the perception of dentists because we are health-care professionals,” said Reena Talwar-Provoledo, associate professor in oral and maxillofacial surgery in the School of Dentistry, during her charge to the students.

“I charge all of you to be the class that is referred to as great doctors, the class that participates and is involved. Be the class that changes the stereotype of what a dentist is perceived as to an educated, kind, caring, generous and ethical oral health professional.”

For dentistry students Stephanie Armstrong and Katherina Nguyen, who led the student charge, the white coat symbolizes the commitment in mentoring and guidance from the instructors who helped them survive the first two years of didactic learning.

“Earlier this year we started working on our first patients. Although we were simply cleaning their teeth, walking out for the first time to pick them up from the waiting room was incredibly nerve-wracking. It finally hit that we were responsible for another person,” said Nguyen. “Our white coats are a sign of the hard work and dedication we have all put in to get to this point, as well as our acceptance of the new challenges we will face in the coming years.”

Armstrong says they’ve been learning the language of dentistry for the last two years and now ready to begin their clinical dental careers.

“We’ve come a long way in the last two years, and the class of 2017 would first like to sincerely thank the faculty for helping us to where we are today,” said Armstrong.

The students went on to share the message and promise of practising ethical, patient-centred care as put forth by Talwar-Provoledo.

“It is a privilege that we humbly and graciously accept as we step into the next chapter of our education,” said Nguyen.