On June 3, the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) hosted a white coat ceremony for more than for 60 high school students from across the Mid-South. The ceremony is the conclusion of a six-month program entitled Determined to be a Doctor Someday (DDS). United States Congressman Steve Cohen delivered the welcoming address.

The program’s objective is to stimulate and encourage minority and under-represented students to pursue careers in health care. It involves mentoring the students and detailing what is required to pursue a doctorate degree in health care.

Traditionally, the white coat ceremony is done for students as they enter professional school or embark upon seeing patients in a clinical setting. It has been used at schools around the country as a means of establishing a psychological contract for the practice of various health care disciplines. Professional school is years down the road for these students, but receiving white coats now provides them with a tangible item to remind them of the promise they’ve made to themselves to pursue health care professions.

The initiative is the creation of local dentist and UTHSC College of Dentistry alumna (’05) Christina Rosenthal, DDS, MPH, who saw the national need for an increase of minority health care providers. “Coming from very humble beginnings in North Memphis, my quest to become a dentist was never easy, but I made it,” Dr. Rosenthal said. Dentistry has not only allowed me to achieve my dreams, but it has also given me a chance to be a blessing to my family and the community. This could not have been possible without health care providers, who not only provided care, but served as mentors along the way. This is my chance to give back.”