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image of ceremony2015 White Coat Ceremony

by Michelle Tedford for UD Quickly

The white medical coat is a symbol of purity, hope and compassion.

For 30 students, it’s also a symbol of hard work completed, and of service ahead.

Members of the first cohort of students in UD’s physician assistant program walked across the Kennedy Union ballroom stage Friday, Dec. 18, to receive their coats and take an oath to care for and respect their patients while guided by the Catholic, Marianist tradition.

“Through leadership, lifelong learning and service may I preserve the finest traditions of my calling, and may I experience the joy of healing those who seek my help,” the students spoke in unison.

The oath, written by volunteers for the cohort, will be recited at each annual white coat ceremony.

image of ceremony“This is the rite of passage for medical professionals,” said Kelli Huesman, director of clinical education for the University’s physician assistant department. “It signifies that they are moving on to do what they are trained to do.”

The ceremony is also significant for the master’s degree program, which is preparing to admit its third cohort of students in August; 1,042 people applied for the 40 seats available.

Kevin Kelly, dean of the School of Education and Allied Professions, was one of the evening’s guest speakers. He told how an idea of filling a health care need flourished into the physician assistant program.

“I call on each of you to service the needs of others and enhance the social good,” he said.

Students in the first cohort will spend the next year completing rotations in family, internal and emergency medicine, orthopedics, general surgery, mental health, women’s health, and pediatrics, as well as in one elective. They will work in the Dayton area, at the Cleveland Clinic or with Cincinnati-area hospitals.

image of ceremonyAmong those in attendance were family and friends who supported the students during their 15-month classroom experience. That included Ralph and Debbie Callahan, whose son Cory received his white coat. The family has made many trips to Dayton from Bristol, Tennessee, Ralph Callahan said. “This one, it’s our nicest trip up here,” he said after the ceremony. “We’ll have a bigger clan next year,” Debbie Callahan added, referencing the cohort’s Dec. 17, 2016, graduation.

Jim Sampey ’82, whose company Prime Medical Apparel made the coats, said he was proud to have UD’s students be the first students to receive coats made with a polymer-infused antimicrobial fabric. He said it will help to keep the students, their medical colleagues and their patients safe. “We’ll work on getting your scrubs and the rest of the gear to protect you each and every day,” he said.

White for compassion, hope and purity, indeed.

This article originally published in UD Quickly >>

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