Physician Assistant Studies Students Receive White Coats
July 26, 2017
ALLIANCE, Ohio - On a muggy Saturday afternoon amidst peaceful violin melodies and hushed chatter, an air of anticipation could be felt in Brush Performance Hall as 37 physician assistant graduate students awaited the final step of their classroom experience- receiving their white coats. The 8th annual Physician Assistant Studies Program White Coat Ceremony began with welcoming remarks from Jeff Breese, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the University, Betsy Ekey, associate professor and director of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies, and a thoughtful invocation by Reverend Coralee Cox.
Breese assured the students before him that, although the next step in their journey might be scary and unfamiliar, the existing individuals in the field will welcome them with open arms, similar to the way in which he has been welcomed into the Mount Union community as the new vice president of academic affairs and dean of the University. After Reverend Cox encouraged everyone to celebrate this “day of recognition of hard work, dedication and professional development”, keynote speaker Dr. Richard Drake took the stage.
A Mount Union alumnus and the director of anatomy and professor of surgery, Drake spoke of his close connection to this class of physician assistant students, as he has spent the last 14 weeks instructing and mentoring them. During his speech, Drake spoke of the steps (small events) and hurdles (larger, culminating events) that one encounters throughout life. He addressed the students, saying that their decision to enter PA school could be seen as a momentous step, however, the White Coat Ceremony is undoubtedly a huge hurdle that the class overcame together.
In addition, Drake spoke of the significance of the white coat, its symbolism of humanism, and the formation of meaningful relationships with others. He also mentioned to the students that people will look at them differently and trust them more while wearing their white coats. He concluded by saying, “today is not the last hurdle; today marks the beginning of a change in your life”.
Proceeding the keynote remarks, the graduate students filed on stage to receive their long-awaited white coats from their respective advisors. After many rounds of applause, joyous shouts, and proud tears shed, the room was filled with a class of beaming students adorned in white. Following the students’ ceremony, an Honorary White Coat was given to Drake for his dedication to the Physician Assistant Studies Program.
Before the end of the celebration, the Yendrek Humanitarian Scholarship was awarded to class president Elise Baldarelli for “exemplifying humanitarian excellence”. According to Yendrek, Baldarelli constantly sought out volunteer opportunities and eagerly completed over 100 volunteer hours, while also participating in service trips to Jamaica, Ecuador, and Uganda during her undergraduate studies.
The Mentor of the Year award was presented to Abigail Amrine for being an always-positive and smiling role model to others. Baldarelli remarked that Amrine “exemplifies everything that a physician assistant should be.”
The ceremony celebrated the accomplishments of the students thus far and marks their official transition from the classroom to the clinical year of studies. The 37 white coat recipients will next embark upon the 12-month clinical phase of the PA program.