Crossing the Threshold, Students Transition to Clinical Work

Touro College of Dental Medicine Class of 2025 Dons White Coat

June 09, 2023
(l-r) Dr. Edward Farkas at podium of TCDM White Coat Ceremony June 2023; Students holding their white coats draped over their arms
Dental students and faculty celebrate the White Coat Ceremony

As he begins his third year of dental school, Alexander Constantine likened the donning of his white coat to crossing a threshold.

“It marks the difference between my pre-clinic and clinic days,” said Constantine who was one of the 115 dental students to don his white coat at Touro College of Dental Medicine’s (TCDM) White Coat Ceremony on June 1. “It proves three things: the confidence I have in my classmates, the confidence I have in my faculty, and the confidence I have in myself.”

As the first speaker during the event—which took place on the school’s campus—TCDM’s Assistant Director of Clinical Affairs Aaron Yancoskie, DDS, noted that the white coat marked the beginning of the students’ entrance into clinical work; from now on they would work on real teeth instead of plastic teeth, on patients instead of simulations. “Stand proud of your accomplishments,” Dr. Yancoskie said. “The most difficult two years of your training are now behind you. You have the privilege to provide oral care to patients. You are well prepared and well-trained for the job ahead.”

Dr. Yancoskie spoke of the long odds each student faced when they applied to New York’s newest dental school. More than 2400 students from across the country applied to be members of the 115 spots in TCDM’s Class of 2023. After being accepted, students put in 1800 hours of training in biomedical science, cutting-edge dental technology, and professional communication.

“This marks an incredible milestone in your development as students at Touro College of Dental Medicine as well as your loved ones who have supported you along the way,” said TCDM Dean Ronnie Myers, DDS. “This great leap from library and simulation lab to clinical oral health provider will be remembered throughout your entire personal career. We are proud of each and every one of you.”

Student President Jeremy Lichter delivered an emotional speech acknowledging both the difficulties the students faced and the awesome responsibilities ahead of them.

“The white coat isn’t a garment but a symbol of professionalism and compassion and the immense responsibility of being a healthcare provider,” said Lichter. “Let it remind us of the immense privilege to alleviate pain and restore smiles. Our patients put their trust in us. We represent not only the dental profession, but we are a beacon of hope and healing.”

Eric Davis, a member of the Class of 2024, and a previous recipient of the Louis Rubins, DDS, Memorial Scholarship, announced that class member Armita Saneii was the recipient of this year’s scholarship. The scholarship is awarded annually to a second-year student who has shown excellence in pre-clinical prosthodontics.

While delivering the Preclinical Faculty of the Year Award to Rebecca Block, DDS, Class Vice President Stephanie Golod noted the dual nature of the celebration, both for the students and the faculty that guided them.

In her address, equal parts heartfelt and humorous, keynote speaker Dr. Susan DiSenso-Browne spoke about how many patients hate the dentist and the reasons behind it.

“Some patients had terrifying dental encounters as children and now attend appointments only in severe pain,” said Dr. DiSenso-Browne, who serves as course director of oral healthcare for patients with special needs. “To those with special needs, the dentist signifies bad news. Some have endured facial trauma and the emotional aftermath: lost teeth and dignity. Others have spent hours travelling to find care for their loved ones… The dental experience can’t be summarized. It’s completely unique and requires constant education, not just about dentistry, but about humanity.”

The ceremony concluded with the donning of the white coat and the recitation of the Dental Student Oath led by Assistant Dean for Clinical Affairs David J. Katz, DDS, FAGD, FACD. The students, newly empowered and newly representative of the dental profession, filed out of the ceremony to take the next steps on their journeys.