White Coat Ceremony celebrates and welcomes DDS Class of 2027, Dental Therapy Class of 2026 and Dental Hygiene Class of 2025

A student smiles as he receives his white coat on stage

The School of Dentistry held its annual White Coat Ceremony to welcome incoming clinical learners to the profession on Friday, September 8 at Northrop Auditorium.

First celebrated in 1993 in New York, the White Coat Ceremony marks the moment in which each clinical learner is bestowed with their first white coat, recognizing the professionalism and patient-centered care expected of the wearer.

Members of the DDS Class of 2027, Dental Therapy Class of 2026 and Dental Hygiene Class of 2025 participated in the ceremony, receiving their coats and beginning their journey into the profession together. 

Karl Self, DDS, MBA, speaks at a podium

“Students, your decision to become an oral health professional has led you to an educational path that is not granted to everyone, and on the other side of the many exams, quizzes, papers, skills assessments and late nights of study, you will enter a career of providing care for patients, advocating for social justice in health policies, educating future oral health professionals, discovering new treatment modalities, forging groundbreaking research, improving the overall health of your patients and positively engaging and impacting the communities where you will reside,” reflected Karl Self, DDS, MBA, Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, as he welcomed students to the event. “This afternoon, I want to congratulate you for all of your hard work and dedication thus far, and welcome you into this great profession.” 

Dean Keith Mays, DDS, MS, PhD, provided a welcome and additional remarks for learners and their loved ones. 

Dean Keith Mays speaks from a podium

“This afternoon marks an important milestone along our students’ academic and professional journey,” he said. “The white coat is a standard of professionalism and caring and an emblem of trust that is granted to healthcare professionals by the patients we care for. It must be earned and maintained by our actions. The White Coat Ceremony is a time-honored tradition of inducting students into the oral health professions.” 

Before receiving their white coats, each class recited their individual codes of ethics, developed during orientation as a class as a shared commitment to one another and to the community. Each learner had the opportunity to sign this code as they crossed the stage with their coat. 

After each class received their coats, they recited the Oath for New Dentists, the Minnesota Oath for Dental Therapists and the Oath of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, respectively. These oaths guide the practice of clinicians and reaffirm their responsibility to their patients. 

Janelle Jehn speaks at a podium

Finally, attendees enjoyed a keynote speech from Janelle Jehn, BSDT ’13, ADT ’16, immediate past president of the Minnesota Dental Therapy Association and acting clinical dental director of Southside Community Health Service. Jehn is the first dental therapy graduate to deliver the White Coat Ceremony keynote speech. 

Jehn reflected on her own career and how a commitment to curiosity led her to success. 

“I have had opportunities that I could not even think, nor dream, of when I was sitting in these seats thirteen years ago,” she said. “I have had opportunities to travel all over the country and speak about dental therapy, to serve thousands of patients in my community, to create smiles and make a difference, to establish such a strong philosophy to care grounded by the mission of providing affordable and accessible dental care. I have had the opportunity to be a leader, to lead a team and community health center dental program, and the opportunity to be the first dental therapist to speak at the White Coat Ceremony. All because I remained curious.” 

A student smiles as she dons her white coat

Jehn encouraged learners to stay curious, to be persistent, to stay focused and to remove their own limitations. She advised them to “take a minute” to appreciate all that they had accomplished thus far and all that was to come, congratulating them and wishing them luck on what was to come. 

“This is validation that your persistence, focus and curiosity have led you here, to this moment, to this accomplishment, to success,” she said. 

Congratulations to the DDS Class of 2027, Dental Therapy Class of 2026 and Dental Hygiene Class of 2025 on your entrance into the profession! 

The White Coat Ceremony and the bestowing of white coats is supported by generous donations from Freeman Rosenblum, DDS ’61, and Shirley Rosenblum, BS ’61, MS ’85 and the American College of Dentists.

Click on the photo above to view additional images from the day.