A White Coat and Weathered Tie: Reflections on Georgetown’s 2027 Medical School Class

This weekend, I went to my first “white coat” ceremony — the traditional start of medical school for future doctors. The fact that this was the 175th anniversary of Georgetown Medical school in its historic Healy Hall was incredibly powerful. However, it was watching my eldest son, Benjamin, “coated” that made this one of the most powerful and proudest moments of my life. Leslie and I watched with our other children as Ben began his medical training as part of the Georgetown class of 2027. The ceremony in the beautiful Gaston room is filled with tradition as all of the future doctors awaited their white coats and stethoscopes. They are the gifts of prior Georgetown graduates. In the pockets of their coats, they each found a letter from a graduate written to them individually from an alumni doctor.

Dean Leon “Lee” Jones did a masterful job in capturing this moment for the students and their families. He got them to pause, to close their eyes, and take in this irreplaceable moment.

Frankly, it was hard for me to keep my composure. As he walked across the stage and I focused the camera, I realized that Ben had chosen to wear a tie that I gave him in high school. It was a tie that my father wore and gave me when I set off to become a page in Congress at age 15 — roughly five decades ago. It was threadbare and faded at points. However, it was a brilliant reminder of how he got there and who he was. We are all the sum total of everyone who came before us. Ben wanted me to know that he had not forgotten.

Yet, at that moment I knew (as I have always known) that Ben was more than a brilliant researcher with medical publications on opioid and addiction (including one published this week). He is something far more important in this world. He is a truly good man. He is everything that you would want in a doctor. He is caring and calm; intelligent and empathic. Most importantly, he is humble and thankful.

It is one of those moments you wanted but feared to come. He was setting out and you had to let go. For each parent, even in a packed hall, you were alone with a flood of memories of actual to experiential first steps that brought him to this place. He is his own man and we could no longer hover behind him to catch him any more than we could walk across that stage with him. Perhaps that is why he wore the tie. He wanted to show that he was taking part of us with him. A tie, a bond, that would continue to hold us as one.

My emotions were shared by every parent in that hall as they watched their own children don their white coats. They came from countries around the world but our emotions and experiences were strikingly similar. Passing smiles and glances confirmed all that you needed to know. The mix of unbridled pride with a longing to hold onto this moment; to hold on to the kid who just yesterday seemed to be taking his first unsteady and awe-struck steps into an unknown world.

After being “coated,” we watched them take the Hippocratic Oath. In celebration of their diversity, the students then took turns reading lines from the oath in over a dozen native languages.  Spoken in Korean, Turkish, Hindi, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Farsi, Hebrew, Urdu, Arabic and many languages, it reminded them of a bond to each other as healers.

The oath itself has always intrigued me. We are all familiar with the “do no harm” tenet. However, the oath has changed dramatically over the years. The original oath had references to ancient Gods and some startling lines. It began with “I swear by Apollo the physician, and Aesculapius the surgeon, likewise Hygeia and Panacea, and call all the gods and goddesses to witness, that I will observe and keep this underwritten oath, to the utmost of my power and judgment.”

It also included this obligation:

“Whatsoever house I may enter, my visit shall be for the convenience and advantage of the patient; and I will willingly refrain from doing any injury or wrong from falsehood, and (in an especial manner) from acts of an amorous nature, whatever may be the rank of those who it may be my duty to cure, whether mistress or servant, bond or free.”

The modern oath used by Georgetown still has portions that I especially like, particularly where the students must swear to not only respect and admire their professors but support them financially if needed. That is something we need to add to the oath for our law school graduations.

The students will all start on Monday morning in a long haul to earn their “long white coats.” The former dean of the medical school, Stephen Mitchell, told the students that they are all likely wondering how they made it through the brutal selection process for medical school. With over 16,000 applicants, these roughly 200 students had made the cut and some may have their self doubts. Yet, he observed, with a nod to Harry Potter, that “you do not choose the white coat, the white coat chooses you.” Perhaps, but each of these future doctors came to this moment as a result of everything and everyone that came before them. That is why that was more than just an old, faded tie.

Congratulations Class of 2027.




86 thoughts on “A White Coat and Weathered Tie: Reflections on Georgetown’s 2027 Medical School Class”

  1. Congratulations! What a proud moment for you and your family. My favorite part of your writing was your statement that Ben is a “good man.” No higher compliment.

  2. “He is something far more important in this world. He is a truly good man. He is everything that you would want in a doctor. He is caring and calm; intelligent and empathic. Most importantly, he is humble and thankful.”

    You are so blessed. You and Leslie did a good job raising him. You have a lovely family.

  3. As always an exceptionally written piece. This time, love was clearly your muse. Thank you for sharing this moving moment in your lives.

  4. What?
    A white male attending Med School?
    Did you make a donation? Call a friend for some favors?

    Is your son gay? Identifies as Transgender?

    While these questions seem offensive to some… they are unfortunately legitimate.
    Med Schools are now routinely discriminating against White Male applicants.

    1. What “Turley brought to Law”? Purchased advocacy for a media outlet proven to lie, getting successfully sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems for falsely claiming that the machines could be manipulated to change votes? Someone who daily attacks our President with slanted analysis, carrying whatever daily trope Fox tells him to–especially attacks on Hunter Biden, a vulnerable target, all without any evidence that JOE Biden did anything wrong–all of which Turley knows is a deflection away from Trump, whom he is paid to defend, because, really, that’s all the “Hunter Biden Scandal” is all about. Turley asserts claims of “corruption”, even though there’s nothing behind it–no paper trail, no checks–nothing but the laptop–which is proof of nothing other than perhaps Hunter likes to engage in puffery.

      I wish that I could just say “congratulations” to Turley over HIS child, but I can’t get past the hypocricy–Turley uses his platform to endlessly attack the son of our President, who has never been involved in politics. Hunter Biden has admitted he is a troubled man, but his mother and sister were killed in a horrific accident, his brother Beau, died of brain cancer, and, at the time he was “involved” with the mother of Navy Joan, was going thorugh a divorce and was having a hard time coping emotionally. Even though no crimes have ever been proven, Turley endlessly harps about Biden family “corruption”,despite the fact that Devin Archer said he knew of NO proof that Joe Biden was involved in any of Hunter’s “deals” and all Republicans and their enablers, like Turley, have is the laptop. Turley publicized information about Hunter’s illegitimate child, using her name, mentioned that her mother had been a sex worker and her circumstances as a political attack against our President–with little to no concern about the child’s welfare and ignoring the fact that paternity actions are generally sealed to protect the child. Nevertheless, he wants to crow about his own child, while he trashes other people’s children and, in this case, a grandchild who is only 4 years old. You ask too much, Turley.

      What has Turley “brought to law”? Nothing to be proud of, so my wish is this: I hope your child doesn’t use whatever position he ultimately attains to hurt other people unfairly just because he’s being paid to do so.

      1. I don’t even know how to respond to such childish drivel you have written! Do you even do any research? You are so far off the wall and don’t seem to have any understanding of the FACTS about the Hunter Biden/Joe Biden matter. I am offended by your comments and completely disgusted.

        1. You don’t get it–do you? In politics, before Trump, children of politicians were off-limits. Not so since Trump, because he is such a crook–his crimes are out in the open for everyone to see– and there’s nothing comparable with which to attack Joe Biden. It cannot be disputed that Joe Biden has done a wonderful job of turning around the Trump economic, political and public health disasters, so they use Hunter’s laptop to smear his father–as if anything on the laptop proves anything. An inconvenient facdt is that there are no FACTS that have been proven from the laptop that prove any crimes–despite 4 years of investigation, and Devin Archer’s promised “bombshell” fizzled.There’s nothing to “research”–the blatherings of Mark Levin are not proof of anything. For actual PROOF, you need a money trail: a bank withdrawal, a check, a wire transfer–something–from somone seeking a benefit, paid to someone who conferred a benefit. No such trail exists, and even if “influence peddling” were to be shown, that is not illegal–but, does that stop Turley from claiming Biden family “corruption”, even though he has no proof? No. And, if you’ve paid attention to Turley’s attacks on the Bidens, you’d notice that he couches his attacks with hedge words like “alleged”..”if this is proven”…”sources say”…”according to”…”seems as”….which are not assertions of fact at all– a distinctionTurley KNOWS the disciples don’t understand, which is one big problem I have with Turley–he panders to people who don’t know any better by lending his bona fides as a “law professor” to the Fox agenda, which, lately, includes attacks on Jack Smith. Has Turley withdrawn his previous attacks against Hunter Biden, and, by extension to Joe Biden, since the “Devin Archer bombshell” fizzled? No, he has’t. Worst of all, he used the situation with a poor little 4 year old girl as a means by which to attack Joe Biden, which is way below the belt. IMHO, Turley trades on his family to prop up his credibility as a paid Fox pundit while simultaneously attacking Joe Biden’s son and granddaughter, neither of whom is involved in politics. I find that disgusting.

  5. Congratulations!
    An incredible experience for your son, you and your family. As is often said, “The apple doesn’t fall from the tree”. God bless him!

    Although Gina didn’t wear your tie as she graduated from Columbus School of Law, she did carry your incredible mentorship within as she proceeded up the aisle of the Basilica.
    Thank you.

  6. Congratulations, Jonathan Turley, you have instilled in your son the same dedication to decency and integrity.

  7. Congrats. May you son never forget….the autonomy of the patient. May he never see his white coat to induce blood pressure and push their pills for big pharma. May he never sign off blindly on nurses falsey imprisoning “patients”….

  8. Congratulations, Professor Turley, to you and your family, and to Ben, especially!

    “However, it was a brilliant reminder of how he got there and who he was.”

    Yes. He is a Turley and carries the family name with pride and honor.

    His wearing of a family tie is quite symbolic, and, makes me think of a lovely children’s book: My Grandfather’s Coat. Retold by Jim Alesworth.

    Blessed be the tie that binds…people’s hearts in love. Congratulations to your wonderful family.

  9. Dear Jonathan,

    I wanted to take a moment to extend my heartfelt congratulations to you on the start of your son’s medical school journey and his participation in the ‘white coat’ ceremony. This is undoubtedly a monumental and proud moment for both you and your family.

    As parents, we always strive to provide our children with the best opportunities for their future, and seeing them embark on a path as noble as medicine fills us with immense joy and pride. Your son’s acceptance into medical school is a testament to his hard work, dedication, and passion for healing others.

    The ‘white coat’ ceremony, marking the official beginning of medical school, holds deep significance and tradition. It is a symbolic rite of passage, where aspiring doctors are clothed in the emblematic white coat and presented with a stethoscope. This ceremony not only represents their commitment to the medical profession but also symbolizes the trust and responsibility bestowed upon them to care for others.

    I can only imagine the emotions that must have filled your heart as you watched your son, Benjamin, being coated during this momentous occasion. Witnessing our children take their first steps towards fulfilling their dreams is a truly indescribable feeling. Your pride and joy must have been immeasurable, and I congratulate you for raising a remarkable individual who is now embarking on this noble profession.

    I want to commend you for the unwavering support and guidance you have provided to your son throughout his journey. Behind every successful individual, there is a support system that plays an integral role, and your role as a parent has undoubtedly been instrumental in shaping Benjamin’s path.

    May this be just the beginning of a fulfilling and rewarding journey for your son as he continues his medical education. I have no doubt that he will make a significant impact on the lives of countless individuals in the future. Please convey my heartfelt congratulations to Benjamin as well, as he takes this important step towards becoming a doctor.

    Once again, congratulations to you and your family on this momentous occasion. May you all continue to find joy and pride in Benjamin’s achievements, and may his journey in medicine be filled with success, growth, and the fulfillment of his aspirations.

    Warmest regards,

    Danny Rinaldi, A Fan!

  10. Fantastic Jonathan, We know how proud you and your wife are. Congratulations to your Son. de

  11. This column was a welcome read. Your pride and love as a parent is so touching. Congratulations

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