By Jennifer l. Warren
MIDDLETOWN – For Zach Ertrachter last Monday’s White Coat Ceremony was one of the biggest in his life.
The Poughkeepsie resident was one of 135 students who was on the fringe of receiving the white attire that carries multiple, hefty symbolic meanings.
“Today is the culmination of a lot of work-blood, sweat and tears,” reflected Ertrachter, who has a lieutenant status in the military. “I’m going to be an Army Doctor, so this represents the first step in a very long journey that I am committed to-one to the Army, school and service to others- into my late 30’s.”
Inside Middletown’s Paramount Theatre doors, Ertrachter joined his incoming 2023 medical student class, as they proudly took the White Coat Oath (standing for compassionate care as well as scientific proficiency) before being fitted into the prestigious garb, carrying potent overtures. In addition to privilege, professionalism, sound ethics, and tradition, the coat further resonates with each student’s personal journey and the road that got them to this day. Perhaps most tangibly, it officially signifies their official entrance into the medical profession.
For the past six years, Touro College in Middletown has been educating and grooming students in the medical profession. With a highly competitive field of candidates vying for a small sampling of esteemed spots, Touro College includes some of the brightest minds and determined spirits on both the student and faculty levels. Recently the School graduated its second class, whose members are now working at some of the country’s most prestigious hospitals.
With this incoming Class of 2023 as well there are high hopes and expectations. Some of those were encapsulated in the Invocation, provided by Rabbi Baruch Fogel of the Touro College and University System.
“May they learn this,” Fogel turned to the 135 young men and women about to receive their White Coats. “The best way to care for your patients… is to care for your patients.”
That education is also embedded in something else: self-care.
“You will be challenged,” advised Tony Danza of the Danza-Lesser Group. “Take time for yourself: You need to be strong before you can care for others.”
Vestiges of those personal journeys resided throughout the Paramount Theatre last week. Over 100 students had stories riddled with hard work, sacrifice and unbridled joy. One of those was Leydricah Saint Louis.
“After many nights of tearful sleeping, I finally completed one of the milestones, sometimes blurred by my tears,” recollected Saint Louis. “I would like to thank my strong support system for barricading me with the encouragement I needed when studying got hard; I don’t know where I would be without it.” She added, “My White Coat Ceremony was a visual representation of my hard work and was a huge motivator, but the work does not stop here; instead it continues, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.”
Her classmate and friend, Lynn Allyssa Desire echoed similar sentiments, as well as her reasoning behind her Touro College selection and satisfaction.
“I applied to Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine first as a Master’s student because their mission statement aligns with my goal of providing health care to undeserved communities; Touro also aims to increase the number of underrepresented minorities such as myself.” said Desire. “As a Haitian immigrant, I am grateful for the opportunity to become the first physician in my family, and I am thankful for the staff and faculty for creating such a welcoming environment for us students and for genuinely caring about our success and well being.”