From Classroom to Clinicals: PA Class of 2017 White Coat Ceremony

24 Class of 2017 Physician Assistant students received their white coats during a ceremony on Johnson & Wales' Providence Campus.

Family, friends, and loved ones filled Schneider Auditorium on JWU's Providence Campus to celebrate the Physician Assistant Studies Program Class of 2017 during their White Coat Ceremony on Friday, June 17. 

“The White Coat Ceremony marks the transition from the classroom to hospital and clinics around Rhode Island, which will be [the Class of 2017's] classroom for the next 12 months,” George Bottomley, director of the Center for Physician Assistant Studies, said. 

Vice Chancellor and Provost Tom Dwyer greeted the students and their families for what he joked was more than likely the first time. “There's a reason you've probably never seen me before,” he said. “I told George [Bottomley] I would give him whatever he wanted [for the PA program] as long as he didn't ask me to walk through the labs. Otherwise you'd all be picking me up off of the floor.” 

On a more serious note Dwyer added that the Class of 2016, Johnson & Wales' inaugural Physician Assistant Studies class, had all graduated in two years, and had all passed their boards. He charged the Class of 2017 to make such an accomplishment a tradition in JWU's PA program.

PA students recieving their white coats.

Academic Coordinator Rebecca Lovell Scott shared a brief history behind the meaning of the white coat, and offered words of wisdom and encouragement to the students.

“The White Coat Ceremony was first held to mark the transition from 'medical student in class' to 'medical student seeing patients' as a visible reminder that being a healthcare provider is more than being smart, knowing one's anatomy, physiology, microbiology,” she said. “Compassion and empathy is at the heart of medicine. These coats are a visible symbol of why we chose you for our program: you are smart, you are well trained, you are capable, but most importantly, you are empathetic and compassionate.”

The audience also heard from Student Speaker Lauren Almonte, Medical Director Diane Siedlecki, and Alumni Speaker Krista Murphy '16. 

Murphy, after admitting to being somewhat uncomfortable speaking in front of crowds, told the audience she had also volunteered to give a speech at the Center for PA Studies ribbon cutting ceremony. “Life happens outside of your comfort zone,” she said. “You'll only get out of your clinical year what you put into it, so don't be afraid to ask questions.”

PA students' white coat ceremony.


Twenty-four students in total were presented with their white coats, before returning to their seats to receite the Physician Assistant Oath (pictured above).