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Close-up image of a stethoscope and ceremony program

November 10, 2022

By Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science staff

First-year students at Mayo Clinic Alix School of Medicine in Arizona and Minnesota participated in a Stethoscope Ceremony on Nov. 5, in a rite of passage that marks the start of the students' path to medicine.

Medical students have countless firsts during the initial months of training; however, the first time they place a stethoscope around their necks is often considered one of the most poignant. The annual Stethoscope Ceremony is sponsored by the Mayo Clinic Alumni Association.

A traditional ceremony in the United States, many medical schools call this the White Coat Ceremony and students put on the well-known physician’s coat for the first time. Mayo Clinic physicians traditionally do not wear white coats in clinic, stemming from the belief of the Mayo brothers that these coats create a barrier between physicians and patients when developing a relationship. Rather, physicians dress in business attire to create a better connection to their patients and a sense of respect. As such, the medical school chose the stethoscope to signify first year students’ welcome to the profession.

Group picture of first-year medical students at the Stethoscope Ceremony in MinnesotaCombined with Family Weekend, more than 200 loved ones gathered for the Stethoscope Ceremony and watched as first-year medical students — 55 in Minnesota (pictured) and 50 in Arizona — received their personal stethoscopes. They will carry these stethoscopes with them throughout medical school and beyond.

The students also recited the Mayo Physician Pledge for the first time with Fredric Meyer, M.D., Waugh Executive Dean of Education.


Video recap: Stethoscope Ceremony at Mayo Clinic in Arizona

Video recap: Stethoscope Ceremony at Mayo Clinic in Arizona

Reflections from the ceremony

Rochelle Torgerson, M.D., Ph.D., dean of student affairs on the Minnesota campus, reflected on what makes Mayo Clinic special. “If you ask anyone, what is so special about Mayo Clinic, you’ll be told it’s the people,” she said. “Hopefully along the way your students will tell you the long history, but it truly the people. It is an incredible place, and now your loved ones have found their special people.”

“There are few symbols that are more associated with the physician than the stethoscope,” Amit Shah, M.D., associate dean for academic affairs on the Arizona campus said. “I hope it provides you the superpowers of connection-- a connection to the alumni of this school, a connection to the past, a connection to your patient, and a connection to the ritual of medicine. I hope that by putting it on today, you feel even more that you belong to this profession and the rituals of the art of medicine.”