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White Coat Ceremony Welcomes Future MDs to the RSOM

136 incoming students to the Renaissance School of Medicine took their Hippocratic Oath for the first time (©Stony Brook University)

Incoming students reflect on the pandemic and entering the field

STONY BROOK, NY, August 17, 2021 – The Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University welcomed its incoming 2021 class at the annual White Coat Ceremony on August 15.  A total of 136 students for the first time donned their white coats and took the Hippocratic Oath at a ceremony in the Staller Center. They begin their medical training during a year that marks the 50th anniversary of the school.

William Wertheim, MD, Interim Dean, cited the students as a unique and talented incoming class entering medicine at a challenging and changing time in the profession. He emphasized professionalism and compassion for patients as two of the leading areas they will need to develop and build on in their medical school training years.

First-year student Jessica Kwong (©Stony Brook University)

A large portion of the class hails from New York State (69 percent), yet many students are from all over including 13 other U.S. states and five countries. They are among a select group, as the school received more than 5,800 applications for a position in the class.

“I feel like entering the medical field during these pandemic times will give my class a humbler perspective on medicine,” said student Jessica Kwong, who had majored in Psychology and Linguistics at Emory University. “I have no idea what I want to specialize in, but during the pandemic I worked with the elderly populations and organized a tele-volunteer initiative. I do plan on working with underserved populations, which is why I minored in Spanish so I can use it in my practice as a future physician.”

“This pandemic has shown me just how critical physicians are, and I am excited to see how myself and classmates can help in the Covid-19 crisis,” said Michelle Carfagno, who started to become very interested in medicine at age 12 when she had a knee injury.  A Cornell University graduate who majored in Biological Sciences, Carfagno is very interested in the relationship between nutrition and disease and is considering a path in primary care or perhaps specializing in GI diseases at some point.

First-year student Michelle Carfagno (©Stony Brook University)

Career-changer Carlos Ortiz worked in the area of supply chain management but was also a volunteer EMT. He found EMT work fulfilling. That service along with his interest in maintaining physical health and supporting others to do the same inspired him to pursue medicine. Ortiz also found himself on the front lines during the pandemic, which he says further helped prep him for medical school.

As the need for more physicians continues in the U.S. and worldwide due to aging populations, increased medical interventions, and a new lens on public health due to the pandemic, it’s fitting that the 2021 incoming class is one of the RSOM’s largest to date. Four members of the school’s first entering class of 1971 attended the ceremony to celebrate with the new students. That class included only 24 individuals, 16 men and eight women.


About Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University:

Established in 1971, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University includes 25 academic departments. The three missions of the School are to advance the understanding of the origins of human health and disease; train the next generation of committed, curious and highly capable physicians; and deliver world-class compassionate healthcare. As a member of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and a Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME) accredited medical school, Stony Brook is one of the foremost institutes of higher medical education in the country. Each year the School trains nearly 500 medical students and more than 600 medical residents and fellows. Faculty research includes National Institutes of Health-sponsored programs in neurological diseases, cancer, cardiovascular disorders, biomedical imaging, regenerative medicine, infectious diseases, and many other topics. Physicians on the School of Medicine faculty deliver world-class medical care through more than 31,000 inpatient, 108,000 emergency room, and 940,000 outpatient visits annually at Stony Brook University Hospital and affiliated clinical programs, making its clinical services one of the largest and highest quality medical schools on Long Island, New York. To learn more, visit

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