(November 2018) NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, MD ’02, who spent 141 days on the International Space Station in 2015, brought a surprise out-of-this-world gift to the CU School of Medicine when he came to speak at the 2018 Matriculation Ceremony in August – his own white coat from his first days as a medical student.
“I carried it to the International Space Station with me as a reminder of the role that this institution, the CU School of Medicine family, has played in my life,” Lindgren said.
In addition to the white coat, Lindgren provided a photograph of himself wearing the white coat aboard the space station.
White coats, along with stethoscopes purchased with donations from CU School of Medicine alumni and other benefactors, are given to incoming students at the beginning of their medical education and serve as powerful symbols of the profession, said Dean John J. Reilly, Jr., MD.
In his address to the Class of 2022 medical students, Lindgren explained that difficult endeavors require teamwork, but to make a valuable contribution, you must take care to prepare yourself.
“Simply, your priorities, in order, are to take care of yourself so you can to take care of your team, so you can learn and take care of your patients,” he said. “You can't get to self-actualization if your basic needs aren’t met. You can’t help your team if you’re a mess. The team can’t help patients if you’re a mess.”