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Future Doctors to Receive First White Coats at UA

Nearly 120 new medical students will receive and don their very first white coats at the White Coat Ceremony for the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson later this month.

The annual event, held to honor the college’s latest class of medical students, will take place Friday, July 26, 5-6:30 p.m., in UA Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. Tucson, AZ 85719. The ceremony, which is for family and friends of incoming medical students, not the general public, may be viewed live on the internet at

The White Coat Ceremony is a traditional rite of passage for entering medical students. The event signifies a student’s acceptance into medical school and his or her commitment to compassionate patient care. After being robed with their first coats at the event, students will recite an oath acknowledging their dedication to patients.

The Class of 2023 is made up of 59 women and 60 men, ranging in age from 21 to 46. Seventy-seven percent of the class members are Arizona residents, including 31 Tucsonans. Nearly 50 percent of the class members hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree from the UA.

Mohab Ibrahim, MD, PhD, a member of the UA College of Medicine – Tucson’s Class of 2008, will deliver this year’s keynote address. Dr. Ibrahim, who is a Pima County Medical Society member, is nationally recognized for his pioneering efforts to develop “green-light therapy.” Research by his team has shown that exposure to green LED light can help reduce chronic pain. 

Following are a few of the impressive students who make up the Class of 2023:

Smita Armstrong completed her pre-med requirements 21 years ago, but got sidetracked from the dream of attending medical school after starting a family and launching a career as a school teacher. In her free time over the years, Armstrong wrote children’s books and became a certified emergency medical technician (EMT) and firefighter. As an EMT, Armstrong  participated in intensive 24-hour shifts involving gunshot wounds, stabbings and motor vehicle accidents — all of which have taught her the importance of compassion in uncertain situations. “My path to medical school has been delayed, but over the years I have developed the qualities necessary to succeed in medical school and to become a doctor.”

Former doula and birth coach Oumou Bah is a proud Wildcat alumna, holding a bachelor’s degree in public health from the UA Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. Bah has assisted with baby deliveries across the country, from Tucson to Philadelphia and even Guinea, a West African nation from which her family originally hails. While in Africa, Bah helped educate villages about reproductive health and the dangers of female genital mutilation. After conducting research at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania, Bah became passionate about the importance of diversity in patient clinical trials. She now is committed to providing care in underserved and indigent communities after becoming a physician.

Former UA football player Jacob Matthews always dreamed of being a physician. As an undergraduate linebacker, Matthews participated in countless hours of football practice, but still made time for medical experiences. Matthews has gone on a medical mission trip to Mexico, where he spent time volunteering with underserved populations. He also holds more than 500 hours of physician shadowing experience and has studied abroad in China to learn about traditional Chinese medicine. Matthews is a certified scuba diver, golf enthusiast and avid fisherman. In his spare time, he works as a pre-game analyst for local radio stations 1290AM and 107.5FM.

Twin brothers Dieter and Niels Mohty come from a family of UA alumni and MedCat physicians. Both attended the UA Honors College as undergraduates, double-majoring in physiology and microbiology. 

During his time at the UA, Dieter conducted research on opioid alternatives that could help curb the opioid epidemic. He also participated in multiple volunteer activities, including assisting with health screenings at children’s health fairs and organizing clothing drives for the homeless. Dieter is an automobile enthusiast and in his free time plays the piano and enjoys gardening.

As an undergraduate Niels participated in research through the UA BIO5 Institute, studying frailty in mice to better understand aging and frailty in humans. He graduated summa cum laude with honors, all the while participating in various volunteer activities, such as assisting at end-of-life clinics. In his free time, Niels plays the piano and enjoys nature and wildlife photography.

Former U.S. Navy diver James Patterson has supported hundreds of Navy SEALs during their training and missions in remote and hazardous locations. As a lead platoon dive medic, Patterson provided emergency medical care for diving and traumatic casualties; his unit provided direct medical support for missions  assigned by former President Barack Obama. For his excellent medical care and leadership, Patterson received the Navy Achievement Medal. “I intend to bring the same level of drive, dedication and resilience to my future medical endeavors and I am determined to take on the challenge of higher medical training.”

The 2019 White Coat Ceremony is the 25th ceremony at the UA College of Medicine – Tucson. The first took place in 1995 and has been a tradition for incoming UA medical students ever since.

Each white coat will have a “Humanism in Medicine” lapel pin affixed, provided by The Arnold P. Gold Foundation, which established the ceremony in 1993 at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York. “By establishing this meaningful ritual at the beginning of medical school, students become aware of their responsibilities from the first day of training,” according to the foundation, established in 1989 to foster humanism in medicine.

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