Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Welcomes Class of 2023 White Coat Ceremony

Jennifer Forbes
Communications & Public Affairs

NEW BRUNSWICK – Friday afternoon marked the commencement of a new chapter in the lives of 165 individuals who stood in front of family and friends as Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School’s newest class of medical students to don their white coats for the first time.

“Wearing the white coat represents a commitment to upholding the standards of medicine, as set forth in the Hippocratic Oath,” said Robert L. Johnson, MD, FAAP, interim dean, in his welcome address during the school’s White Coat Ceremony at The State Theatre. “It should serve as a reminder throughout the next four years of training to value humanism and practice compassion when caring for patients.”

The White Coat Ceremony culminates a week-long orientation for the incoming class and signifies the students’ entrance into the medical profession. At the conclusion of the ceremony, the students recited the Hippocratic Oath, beginning their journey to becoming physicians.

The Class of 2023 is diverse in culture, as well as in experience, with nearly half the class having pursued another career or advanced education between earning their undergraduate degree and becoming a medical student. Sixteen percent of the class are entering with either master’s or doctorate degrees, including four students who are part of the medical school’s unique dual-degree program with Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy, in which they earned a doctorate in pharmacy before matriculating at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Service to the community – locally and globally – and mentorship are also common threads among the class, which includes 46 students who hold bachelor’s degrees from Rutgers.

“I hope to transition from a medical student looking to learn medical knowledge to a young doctor looking to learn people, and how medicine and health impact their daily life,” said Richard Lisi, III, who will pursue a dual-degree in the school’s MD/MBA program. Lisi, of Cranston, Rhode Island, was inspired to become a physician because of the care he received as a premature infant, born at 28 weeks and weighing less than two pounds. “The sentiment shared by my family and I has been that the care I received in the NICU saved my life. Thus, becoming a doctor is my way of paying it forward.”

Kate Kim, of Chatham, New Jersey, also is looking forward to improving care by developing a bond with patients. “As a medical school student, I am really excited to learn the skills it takes to become an exceptional physician,” said Kim, who explored other careers, including consulting for federal policymakers, before deciding to pursue medicine as a profession. “I want to learn what it is like to have truly meaningful relationships with patients, how to handle challenging ethical scenarios, and how to simultaneously be a strong leader and supportive team member. I believe that my training and education and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School will allow me to gain the confidence to address any hurdle or challenge I experience along the way in my journey to becoming a physician.”

The keynote address was given by Jessica L. Israel, MD, corporate chair of geriatrics and palliative care and director of The James and Sharon Maida Geriatrics Institute at RWJBarnabas Health. Dr. Israel earned her medical degree at The Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. She completed an internship and residency in internal medicine, as well as a fellowship in geriatrics and adult development at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York. She is the co-author of the textbook “Medicine: A Competency Based Companion” and has been a contributing writer to The New York Times. Dr. Israel’s clinical interests include geriatrics, dementia and behavioral management, palliative care, end-of-life care and doctor-patient communication.


About Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School

As one of the nation’s leading comprehensive medical schools, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in education, research, health care delivery, and the promotion of community health. Part of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School encompasses 20 basic science and clinical departments, and hosts centers and institutes including The Cardiovascular Institute, the Child Health Institute of New Jersey, and the Women’s Health Institute. The medical school has been recognized by U.S. News & World Report as among the top 100 medical schools in the nation for research and primary care.

Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, an RWJBarnabas Health facility and the medical school’s principal affiliate, comprise one of the nation’s premier academic medical centers. Clinical services are provided by more than 500 faculty physicians in 200+ specialties and subspecialties as part of Rutgers Health, the clinical arm of Rutgers University. Rutgers Health is the most comprehensive academic health care provider in New Jersey, offering a breadth of accessible clinical care throughout the state supported by the latest in medical research and education.

Robert Wood Johnson Medical School maintains educational programs at the undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate levels on its campuses in New Brunswick and Piscataway and provides continuing education courses for health care professionals and community education programs. With more than 5,500 alumni since the start of its first class in 1966, the medical school has expanded its comprehensive programming and educational opportunities and is at the forefront of innovative curriculum development and a visionary admissions program. To learn more about Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, visit Find us online at and