The White Coat Ceremony for physician assistant students at Baylor College of Medicine indicates the completion of their didactic training and their transition to the clinical phase of training. The ceremony, which took place in late July for second-year physician assistant students, comes at the end of 13 months of basic science learning.
“We are here to acknowledge the hard work, dedication and sacrifice of these students as they enter the final 16 months of their clinical training,” said Katherine Erdman, assistant director of the Physician Assistant Program at Baylor. “The white coat has become a symbol of the caring professions. It is a step forward in the professional development of a student, and in physician assistants it is a rite of passage from the classroom to a clinical setting.”
The ceremony included reflections and words of wisdom from the 2016 class president, Cesar Morales, as well as others.
Morales referred to his classmates as his 38 new siblings and thanked the family, friends and faculty in the audience who supported the students and helped them get to this next phase in their training.
“With the white coat comes the responsibility to practice medicine at 110 percent,” he reminded his classmates.
Peggy Walsh, an alumna of the program who graduated in 2010 and currently is a physician assistant at MD Anderson, also offered her congratulations and words of advice in the way of four tips:
- Be happy
- Be helpful
- Be humble
- Be hopeful
“I have no doubt that each of you will become an excellent clinician and an excellent physician assistant,” Walsh said.
Third-year physician assistant students Ira Davenport and Megan Bassett also made comments, offering tips for the students as they enter their clinical training.
Davenport reminded the students that they are well prepared for this next phase and that they have what it takes, crediting the program’s faculty for their training.
“You finally get to start doing what you came to PA school to do – making a difference in patients’ lives,” said Bassett.
Carl Fasser, director of the program, also reflected on the role of the white coat in the physician assistant profession and gave his advice to students as they begin this important step in their training.
Finally, students took the physician assistant oath before they celebrated with family and friends at a reception.
“It’s not too early to start asking yourself often what you can do to be extraordinary,” said Erdman, who concluded the ceremony by quoting a Chinese proverb: “‘Teachers open the door, but you must enter by yourself.’”