UGHE Celebrates the Third White Coat Ceremony- Medical Students Pledge to Advance Health Equity

MBBS’28 Students reciting their Hippocratic Oath during the white coat ceremony. Photo by Asher Habinshuti / UGHE.

On the special Wednesday of February 21st, a date which marked two years since Dr. Paul Farmer’s passing, UGHE School of Medicine held the third white coat ceremony at Butaro Campus. It was a fitting tribute to honor a life dedicated to compassion and health equity — the legacy of our beloved ‘Muganga Mwiza’, the late Dr. Paul Farmer. 

The 41 medical students from Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, and Burundi pledged their dedication to compassionate patient care, echoing the principles of equity, social justice, and empathy in medical education to carry on Paul’s legacy  

Dr. Paul Farmer’s unwavering dedication to his patients not only left an indelible impact on global health but also serves as a guiding anchor and cornerstone for UGHE medical students – particularly the students transitioning to their clinical studies. 

The event featured distinguished speakers who imparted invaluable insights and inspiration to aspiring medical professionals.  


Kicking off the ceremony Dr. Ornella Masimbi, the Manager of the UGHE Simulation Center reiterated what the whitecoat ceremony is all about stating, “This ceremony signifies students’ commitment to the values of professionalism, integrity, and compassion as they transition into the clinical phase of their medical education.” 

Prof. Abebe Bekele, Dean of the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, delivered a profound message, reminding the students, “With great power comes great responsibility.” He emphasized that the white coat symbolizes not just a coming of age but a profound embrace of the responsibilities and ethical obligations inherent in the practice of medicine. 

Dr. Robert Ojiambo, Chair of Division of Basic Medical Sciences emphasized the core principles of equity, social justice, and empathy in medical education. That will help them carry on Paul’s legacy. “In you, the mission of our great founder – Dr Paul Farmer, lives! Go forth and make all of us proud.”

In her address, Dr. Natalie McCall, Chair of Clinical  Medicine Division highlighted some of the traits of these students that will make them exceptional in their practice. “ you are caring, selfless, smart, hardworking, loyal to each other and team players, the perfectionist committed, you’re described as being determined and resilient.”

Ada Mola, Class Representative of MBBS’28, echoed a commitment to fight healthcare inequities, stating, “We are not here today because we are the smartest, but because we share a common goal with our late chancellor, Dr. Paul Farmer, to fight the inequities in healthcare. Just like him, my classmates and I are determined to overcome these inequities. 

Dr. Joel M. Mubiligi, Interim Vice Chancellor, painted the white coat as a canvas for healing and compassion, describing it as an unwavering oath to serve humanity. “As you don this white coat, take it as a canvas upon which healing, compassion, and professionalism are painted. An unwavering oath to serve humanity. At UGHE, the white coat holds a special place in our hearts, as it encapsulates the very essence of our vision and mission,” he stated. 

Col. Dr. Eugene Ngoga, Assistant Professor, and Chief Consultant in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Rwanda Military Hospital, provided valuable career advice, emphasizing the importance of passion and service in medicine. “The main aim of a doctor should be to make sure that they make a difference,” he urged. 

Prof. Elizabeth Bradley, President of Vassar College, reflected on the unique partnership between UGHE and Vassar College in advancing health equity. She highlighted the shared commitment to partnership, mirroring the ethos of the late Dr. Paul Farmer, who believed in collaborations to transform medical education for the global advancement of health equity. 

Paul Farmer was all about partnership – partnerships between patients and their physicians, between different caregivers on the healthcare team, and among institutions dedicated to global health. And here we are – such unlikely partners – a medical school in Butaro, Rwanda, and a liberal arts college in Poughkeepsie, New York – learning from each other and aligned toward the noble work of transforming medical education to better advance health equity globally. We do this through partnership,” she said. 

The remarks from Chancellor Dr. Jim Yong Kim, resonated with a powerful message affirming the students’ ability to carry on Paul’s promise in their practice. “I guarantee that you will all be better clinicians because you understand that we have to treat the whole patient, and sometimes the whole family, including the poverty and exclusion that is often at the core of their illness experience. Paul Farmer taught us that and it will forever be the guiding principle of this medical school. 

The ceremony, attended by guests, families, faculty, and staff, celebrated the significant moment for the MBBS Class of 2028, setting the stage for their journey toward becoming compassionate and socially conscious medical doctors as well as reaffirming UGHE’s mission to training the future leaders in healthcare.

All Images of this White Coat Ceremony Are Accessible Here

Meet Each Medical Student in the MBBS/MGHD Class of 2028