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PA Medicine Holds First White Coat Ceremony for Grad Students

For North Greenville University Physician Assistant (PA) medicine students, the opportunity to celebrate their work in one of the most demanding and rewarding of professions, took place on Friday, December 8.

A sense of accomplishment filled the room as the students gathered for a new, annual academic tradition begun by the Graduate School of Health Science at the Tim Brashier Campus at Greer. The school held its first white coat ceremony for the Master of Medical Science in PA Studies students at Suber Road Baptist Church in Greer.

The ceremony celebrated students’ successful completion of their didactic year.  Each student was given a clinical white coat to commemorate their transition from didactic to clinical year.  This group is the first cohort to enter the newly launched graduate degree program that offers a Master of Medical Science in PA Studies.

The didactic year is the portion of training where students learn about disease processes, the presenting signs/symptoms, physical examinations, clinical procedures, treatments, patient education, etc. Most of this occurs through traditional instruction in classroom and small group settings.

To complete the didactic year, students must maintain a 3.0 GPA and pass a cumulative assessment. During clinical year, the students begin to apply their knowledge through interacting with patients in collaboration with a clinical preceptor.

Students, their families and guests, and PA medicine faculty and staff were welcomed to the afternoon ceremony by Program Director Jordan M. Hairr.

“The white coat represents attainment of a prestigious milestone in a health care professional’s career. It is given as a formal welcome to the profession and to emphasize the commitment they make to patient care,” said Hairr. “We are extremely proud of the accomplishments of this class. We are excited for them to begin the next phase of their training.”

Graduate School of Health Science Dean Gregory J. Davenport honored the students for their hard work and welcomed them to the first NGU family of physician assistants.

“NGU PA Medicine students are smart.  But that doesn’t make them a great PA,” said Davenport. “Their desire to serve, however, does. They will make a difference.”  

Davenport told the cohort that as the first PA medicine students to take part in the white coat ceremony, they will hold a special place in the history of the school. He also recognized the dedication of the PA medicine faculty and staff who have helped launch this degree program.

The white coat ceremony is a rite of passage.

“After receiving my white coat, I feel incredibly honored, privileged and excited to be part of the very first cohort in this dynamic and groundbreaking program,” said first-year student and class president Jessica L. Hatcher.

"This past year has been the most difficult and challenging experience any of us has ever encountered, but every student should be very proud of themselves and confident moving forward as future physician assistant,” Hatcher said.

The keynote speaker for the ceremony was Dr. J. Samuel Isgett, retired vice president for graduate studies at North Greenville University.

“Seeing these students receive their white coats signifies the formal half-way point in their PA education and symbolizes their entry into the medical profession. The second half of their training begins right away as they go through an intensive year of clinical rotations in which they will work directly with physicians in all medical specialties and serve the needs of actual patients,” said Isgett. “In just another few months, the first PA cohort in the upstate of SC will receive their Master of Medical Science degrees and formally begin their medical careers.”

As the PA Medicine degree program continues to attract increasing numbers of students to NGU’s Graduate School of Health Science, the ceremony will become a yearly milestone for the school and is part of a growing trend.

Though the white coat has been worn by doctors, nurses, dentists and pharmacists for many years, the ceremony is relatively new. The first took place in 1993 at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, and is now held in 96 percent of medical schools nationwide and around the world.

Members of NGU’s first white coat cohort are: Kathryn E. Allen, April M. Beckett, Taylor N. Bowling, Lauren N. Broberg, Megan D. Carson, Loretta L. Church, Sarai H. Graves, Sarah Elizabeth Harmon, Jessica L. Hatcher, Rebecca L. Hill, Hannah L. Hodge, Shruhi N. Modi, Devan M. Murphy, Jennifer A. Pedersen, Meghan E. Reed, Blair A. Rosemeyer, Hannah E. Saville, Casey B. Skinner, M. Christine Stover, and Ainsley E. Wingard.

To learn more about NGU’s Master of Medical Science in PA Studies ngu.edu/pa-medicine or other graduate and online degree programs offered by NGU’s Tim Brashier Campus at Greer visit ngu.edu/academics.

Photo: Kathryn E. Allen, 2016 NGU graduate from Sumter, being cloaked during the NGU PA Medicine White Coat Ceremony on Friday, December 8.

                        

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