Class of 2025 DPT and PA Studies Celebrate White Coat Ceremonies
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Class of 2025 DPT and PA Studies Students Presented with White Coats

August 28, 2023

On Thursday, August 17, PCOM Georgia conducted two white coat ceremonies for Masters in Physician Assistant Studies (MS/PA) and Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students. In Philadelphia, 60 PA Studies students received their white coats. All of the events can be viewed in full on YouTube.

Thirty-two PA students participated in the morning ceremony, a rite of passage to symbolize professionalism and their commitment to their future patients. Addressing the Class of 2025, Chief Campus Officer R. Bryan Ginn Jr. said his “great affinity for the PA program” was personal. Attending to his health over the past year, Ginn mentioned how PAs at multiple medical practices had enhanced his care by identifying the root of a problem or allaying a concern.

The PCOM Georgia PA Studies Class of 2025 poses on a stairwell following their white coat ceremonyRelating to his experiences, Tiffany Martin (MS/PA '25) was so impressed with her dermatologist's PA that she decided to apply to PA programs. Earning her master's degree in biomedical sciences from Liberty University prior to entering PCOM, Martin, who is from Cumming, GA, also worked as medical assistant for dermatologists who performed cosmetic and Mohs surgeries. As a result, she plans to continue in the specialty upon graduating. Above all, having endured childhood medical complications that kept her hospitalized during her second-grade year, Martin is driven by compassion.

Emergency Medicine PA Jim Giannakakis, a valued educator at PCOM since 2017, spoke to students about restoring the public's trust in the medical profession. He encouraged them to practice with humility; to sit down (in fact, take a seat) beside each patient to listen intently with compassion; and to reflect upon their personal why for choosing the PA path when their will is tested.

Raised by parents who instilled volunteerism as a way of life, Briana Stith (MS/PA '25) also shares a deep desire to improve the lives of others. Working as a researcher at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio sparked her interest “in some form of medicine with a more patient-centered focus.” After becoming certified as a medical assistant and joining an internal medicine clinic for an underserved community, Stith wanted to do more. She was deliberate in returning to Georgia, her home, and continuing her education at PCOM, which fosters a diverse, supportive culture that aligns with her values.

A Career that Endures

Thirty-seven DPT students assembled in the afternoon to receive their white coats, signifying their progression from the classroom to more clinical learning and performing clinical rotations. Class President Halyot Tekie (DPT '25) introduced the guest speaker, Carla Huggins, PT, DPT, a clinical associate professor and director of clinical education at Georgia State University.

The PCOM Georgia DPT Class of 2025 poses with faculty on a stairwell following their white coat ceremonyDescribing her educational journey, Dr. Huggins divulged that 30 years ago, she and her highly diverse DPT cohorts at Temple University were “an experiment” to determine whether such a group would succeed if given the opportunity. They flourished! She named several distinguished classmates and spoke of their continued support of one another and commitment to giving back. In turn, Dr. Huggins encouraged this class to stick together in the coming years as well as mentor students who would reflect the diversity that exists in communities.

Tekie, the son of Eritrean immigrants, envisions such a future. “I want to work in disadvantaged communities and provide them the best possible care,” he said. From growing up in culturally diverse communities, he was drawn to “the diversity and mission values” at PCOM. Tekie additionally confirmed his inclination to pursue sports and/or pediatric PT by connecting with practitioners in those areas. To prospective PCOM students, he suggested, “Look for people in positions that interest you and keep an open mind. Networking can get you a lot further in planning your future than doing it all on your own.”

“I knew what I wanted to do since I was 14,” said Lindsey Cohee (DPT '25). Outgoing and athletic, she became a serious swimmer in middle school and continued through high school and undergrad. She then picked up Olympic weightlifting with a current goal of competing nationally. Regarding how to incorporate sports in her life's work, Cohee said, “I always wanted a career for myself that would endure.” Her love of helping people and maintaining physical fitness made PT the natural fit. “I'm the first generation on both sides of my family to earn a doctorate,” she said. Recalling her family's sacrifices for her, Cohee recognizes the white coat's significance to them.

All students who received their white coats have compelling stories. Indicating that great rewards and challenges await them, Giannakakis offered a quote by Sir William Osler to the PA class that would pertain to anyone called to pursue healthcare:

“Live neither in the past nor in the future, but let each day's work absorb your entire energies, and satisfy your wildest ambition.”

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About PCOM Georgia

Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a branch campus of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (PCOM), a private, not-for-profit, accredited institution of higher education with a storied 125-year history dedicated to the healthcare professions. Located in Suwanee (Gwinnett County), PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy and physical therapy. Graduate degrees are offered in biomedical sciences, medical laboratory science and physician assistant studies. The campus joins PCOM South Georgia in Moultrie in helping to meet the healthcare needs of the state. Emphasizing "a whole person" approach to care, PCOM Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service to the community. For more information, visit or call 678-225-7500. The campus is also home to the Georgia Osteopathic Care Center, an osteopathic manipulative medicine clinic, which is open to the public by appointment. For more information, visit

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Jamesia Harrison, MS
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