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 thousands of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms. PCOM offers doctorate degrees in educational psychology, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and psychology, and graduate degrees in aging and long-term care administration, biomedical sciences, forensic medicine, mental health counseling, organizational development and leadership, physician assistant studies and school psychology. Our students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care to medically underserved populations in inner-city and rural locations. For more information, visit pcom.edu.
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