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Physician-Ethicist to Address First-Year U Medical Students on Spiritual, Ethical Issues at Annual White Coat Ceremony


A widely acclaimed physician-ethicist will introduce 102 aspiring doctors to the weighty ethical and spiritual aspects of their future profession at this year’s White Coat Ceremony for the University of Utah School of Medicine”s freshman class.


This year’s invited speaker is Margaret E. Mohrmann, M.D., Ph.D., whose training in medicine and religious studies has propelled a unique career in which medicine, ethics, and spirituality intersect in her research and practice.


The ceremony, Friday, Aug. 25, at 1 p.m. in the University’s Kingsbury Hall, marks the start of medical school and includes presentation of the physician’s white coat to each class member, as well as the students’ recitation of the Hippocratic Oath. David J. Bjorkman, M.D., M.S.P.H., dean of the medical school and professor of internal medicine, will open and close the ceremony.


A professor of pediatrics and associate professor of religious studies and medical education at the University of Virginia, Mohrmann, graduated from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) and holds a Ph.D. in religious studies from the University of Virginia. Before joining the Virginia faculty, she taught at MUSC.


Mohrmann has authored and edited articles, essays, and books on issues related to ethics, pain, dying, and spirituality in medicine. She narrated “The Way We Die: Listening to the Terminally Ill,” a video used by hospice organizations, AIDS support groups, and in college courses. Students at both Virginia and MUSC have honored her with numerous teaching awards. She also speaks nationwide before groups of theologians, chaplains, nurses, physicians, and other groups.


This year’s class of 102 students was chosen from 1,169 applicants. The class comprises 65 men and 35 women, with an average age of just under 26 years old. Four students are from outside the United States and 17 are minority.


The White Coat ceremony was started in 1993 at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and now is observed by medical schools nationwide.