More than 270 first-year DO students took their first steps toward becoming physicians on October 1, as they received their first white coats in a ceremonial rite of passage for doctors.
The class of 2021 heard from Jay S. Feldstein, DO ’81, president and CEO; Kenneth Veit, DO ’76, MBA, provost, senior vice president for academic affairs and dean; and Joseph Kaczmarczyk, DO ’82, associate dean of undergraduate medical education, on the garment’s importance on their pathway to becoming physicians. The students also heard from upperclassmen and -women on what the white coat means to them.
“I remember being in your place just a year ago,” said Memu-Iye Kamara (DO ’20), chair of the class of 2020. “After receiving my white coat, I could not stop staring at it. I got excited whenever…we were required to wear our white coat, because it was the first time we ever looked like, and felt like, future physicians.”
Evan Gooberman, (DO ’19), MPH, chair of the class of 2019, said that with the many obligations of medical school, “it’s easy to lose sight of the end goal. That’s where the white coat—a symbol of what lies ahead—comes into play. It reminds us that we will take the knowledge and the skills we’ve learned, and put them into practice.”
The White Coat Ceremony is designed to establish a psychological contract for beginning medical students that stresses the importance of compassionate care for the patient and professionalism as well as scientific proficiency.
Each student received a white coat donated to PCOM by the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association (POMA).
“Your white coat, along with your stethoscope, is a symbol as you make the transition from medical student to osteopathic physician,” said George Vermeire, DO ’74, president of POMA.
The physician’s white coat has been a part of the profession since the 19th century. The concept originated from the operating room’s white coat, and has served as a visual symbol of the profession that stands for the need to balance excellence in science with compassionate caring for the patient.
Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine has trained more than 15,000 highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists who practice a “whole person” approach, treating people, not just symptoms. PCOM offers the doctor of osteopathic medicine, doctor of pharmacy and doctor of psychology degrees and graduate programs in mental health counseling, school psychology, physician assistant studies, forensic medicine, organizational development and leadership, and biomedical sciences. Our students learn the importance of health promotion, education and service to the community and, through PCOM’s Healthcare Centers, provide care to the medically underserved populations in inner city and rural locations.
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