Physician Assistant Students Earn White Coats

August 19, 2016

While many students are just beginning the academic year, those enrolled in Georgia Campus – Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (GA-PCOM) Physician Assistant (PA) Studies program have reached a milestone on their journey to becoming physician assistants. Today, GA-PCOM’s inaugural class of 20 PA students earned their white coats.

The White Coat Ceremony for the Physician Assistant Studies Class of 2018 was held at the Infinite Energy Center in Duluth at 11 a.m. and featured guest speaker James Becker, PA-C. He advised the students that “faculty members are not your true teachers, although they observe your actions and interactions and insure you possess a caring and compassionate attitude.” But rather patients will be the true teachers.

“Some will give their lives for you to learn,” he said.

Describing the profession as a calling, he said, “You empower the (white) coat. It doesn’t empower you.” He advised the students to fill their coat pockets with four items—a mirror for self-reflection; running shoes to pursue perfection; a sense of humor and joy; and a tuba or other passion outside of work.

“Work is important,” he said, “but so is life.”

Becker has practiced as a surgical PA in Gainesville, Georgia, for the past 17 years. He has served as both a committee chairperson and board member of the Georgia Association of Physician Assistants. He will join the GA-PCOM physician assistant studies faculty as associate professor and clinical coordinator in October of 2016.

Dr. Laura Levy, chair of PCOM’s Physician Assistant Studies department addressed the PA students’ family members and friends. “You are about to become involved in medical education,” she said, noting that their ear canals, retinas, chests, abdomens and lung and heart sounds are very valuable to the students. She added, “You will most likely endure the longest and most thorough medical exams possible!”

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Georgia Campus – Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine (GA-PCOM) is a private, not-for-profit branch campus of the fully accredited Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, a multi-program institution of educational excellence founded in 1899. GA-PCOM offers the doctor of osteopathic medicine degree, the doctor of pharmacy degree, the doctor of physical therapy degree, as well as graduate degrees in biomedical sciences and physician assistant studies. The campus, located in Suwanee, Georgia, 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 or call 678-225-7500.


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