Welcome Class of 2021

Monday, August 7, 2017
By Aliza Inbari
Dr. Wigfall and student after white coat has been put on.


About the new class and their orientation to Duke 

The School of Medicine’s class of 2021 is readying for their Duke experience with a time-honored ceremony and an immersion into the Duke and Durham community.

The 116 members of the class received their first white coats — a gift from the Duke Medical Alumni Association— at the White Coat Ceremony on August 4.  The white coat signifies the virtues of altruism, responsibility, duty, honor, respect, and compassion.

Adding a new dimension to the tradition, the association also provided a stethoscope to each student, acknowledging their joining the ranks of medicine. Both gifts were made possible by the support of Duke Medical alumni through the Medical Annual Fund.

Alison Vasan, MD’16, remembers well her first white coat, and wanted to pay that feeling forward by supporting the stethoscope program.  “Starting medical school was exciting and intimidating for me, but it was such a warm welcome to receive my white coat from the alumni association,” says Vasan, who is training in radiology at Duke. “Unlike the short white coat, my stethoscope stayed with me well past graduation, and the stethoscopes our new medical students got will be a reminder of Duke that will stay with them when they are new doctors, wherever they choose to train.”

Dean Mary E. Klotman, MD, delivered the keynote address at the ceremony — her first as dean of the school. “You have chosen a remarkable and noble career,” she said. “As a physician or physician-scientist, you will have the opportunity to touch people, to change lives in a way that few other professions offer, and that is indeed an awesome privilege.”

Dr. Drucker with studentsDr. Robert Drucker and students

Dr. Goodman with studentsDr. Philip Goodman and students

Dr. Hanes with studentsDr. Caroline Haynes and students

Dr. Wigfall with studentsDr. Delbert Wigfall and students

Week One: Service and Science

An important goal of orientation week is to help incoming students get to know more about their new community.  A meeting with Durham Mayor Bill Bell included a discussion of the history of race relations in Durham. At four local underserved elementary schools, students helped teachers prepare for the upcoming school year with sweat equity -- doing yardwork, gardening, and moving furniture.

Back on campus, students were immersed in research at the 47th annual Medical Student Research Day, which highlights the scientific contributions of the third-year medical students.

Also known as AΩA day, the event provides a unique learning experience for new students as they view research that the third-year students have worked on so diligently during the year.  AΩA day is also a beneficial event for first and second year students, so that they can begin thinking about their future third-year research project. AΩA, the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society, comprises students, faculty and alumni who exemplify the qualities of scholastic performance, leadership, fairness in dealing with colleagues, compassion for others, integrity of character, and service to the school and community at large.

Just the Facts: About the Class of 2021

  • 116 students were accepted from 7,030 applications
  • 66 women, 49 men, 1 unspecified
  • 13% underrepresented minorities
  • 37 different states and 59 undergraduate institutions are represented
  • Median overall GPA: 3.85

“Our strength as a school and our robust and inclusive admissions process always ensure that we recruit a remarkably diverse group of incredibly talented and humanistic students who are devoted to their studies, to the profession, and to each other,” says Caroline Haynes, MD, PhD, associate dean for medical education and director of the Office of Student Affairs.