The donning of the white coat is a rite of passage for medical students, symbolic of healthcare professionals' commitment to their patients and communities.
More than 200 doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) and doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) students at Georgia Campus – Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (GA-PCOM) in Suwanee, Georgia, received their white coats on Friday, October 19, 2018, at formal ceremonies held at the Infinite Energy Theater in Duluth, Georgia.
The two ceremonies were attended by faculty members, family and friends of the students who observed the traditional donning of the white coats, a rite of passage symbolic of healthcare professionals’ commitment to their patients and communities.
DO ceremony keynote speaker Jason Milton, DO ’14, of Clarkesville, Georgia, a DO graduate of GA-PCOM and a current neurological surgery senior resident who also earned Doctor of Pharmacy and Master of Business Administration degrees, said, “I’m from a blue-collar family where I always learned the importance of hard work and discipline.”
He compared the white coat to a tool belt. “It held all my pocket references and my stethoscope, but in the theoretical sense, it also held the many tools given to me by professors, mentors, instructors, advisors, attendings and colleagues.”
A few of the tools that he said helped him find success along his path include: taking pride in appearance; being an example for others to follow; treating everyone with respect; discipline; ambition; and staying positive. “I encourage you all to be relentless in your pursuit of education and to add as many tools to your belts as possible,” he said.
Class of 2022 Representative Christian Pruitt (DO ’22) addressed his classmates. “Today
we are here to acknowledge and celebrate how far we’ve come and to accept the incredible
responsibility of being a physician-in-training. We are now student doctors and, after
today, we have the wardrobe to prove it.”
School of Pharmacy Dean and Chief Academic Officer Shawn Spencer, PhD, RPh, suggested that the Pharmacy Class of 2022 congratulate themselves for making the decision to embark on the journey toward a pharmacy degree. “Pharmacy holds a special place in our society – we are truly the medication experts. We are among the most trusted professions. We work both in hospitals and in the community where we are often the first and the last point of contact in primary care.
He suggested to the students that their “inclination to wonder about what’s next” will provide the motivation to carry them through the challenges they will face in their pursuit of a degree and beyond. He saluted the students for “setting sail on the life-long path of professionalism, competence and the uncovering and discovering of knowledge.”
Noting that there were 1,330 days until graduation, Pharmacy Class Chair Brent Chatoff, (PharmD ’22) said, “The white coat is symbolic of our abilities to improve the lives of others... It is a symbol of hard work, dedication and professionalism.” Thinking of the days ahead of them, he added that as a class, “we succeed together, we struggle together and we are there for one another.”
GA-PCOM PGY-1 Pharmacy residents Lauren Avery, PharmD ’18, and Irandokht Khaki, PharmD ’18, congratulated and encouraged the students, while Ruth Pierre, (PharmD ’22) sang a stirring and appropriate rendition of “Rise Up” to close both ceremonies. Song lyrics were meant to fortify the students – “And you can't find the fighter, But I see it in you so we gonna walk it out, And move mountains.”
Receptions and tours of GA-PCOM, planned by student leadership, allowed the students’ family members and friends to become more familiar with their students’ home base for the next four years.
Established in 2005, PCOM Georgia is a private, not-for-profit, accredited institute of higher education dedicated to the healthcare professions. The Suwanee, Georgia, campus is affiliated with Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine which has a storied history as a premier osteopathic medical school. PCOM Georgia offers doctoral degrees in osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, and physical therapy and graduate degrees in biomedical sciences and physician assistant studies. Emphasizing "a whole person approach to care," PCOM Georgia focuses on educational excellence, interprofessional education and service to the wider community. 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 pcom.edu or call 678-225-7500.
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