ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Nearly 150 Albany Medical College students officially joined the medical community with a white coat ceremony on Friday. The first official ceremony was held in Chicago in 1993 and has become a tradition at medical schools around the country.

The ceremony signifies the start of the next step in students’ journeys into the profession. One hundred forty-five students participated in Friday’s ceremony. They are from 18 different states, and more than 50 came from New York state.

“Starting on Monday, you job is to learn everything you can so you can take good care of people in the future,” Dr. Mara McErlean, professor of emergency medicine, said. “Everything that you learn from here on our is for a purpose.”

New York is trying to address a shortage of healthcare workers by offering bonuses to certain employees. The state is trying to increase its healthcare workforce by 20 percent in the next five years.