Aspiring Healthcare Professionals Don Their White Coats

January 27, 2020

For a healthcare professional, the white coat is a symbol of achievement and commitment. Thanks to the generosity of College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences alumni, white coat ceremonies now extend beyond the Pharmacy program to include the Physician Assistant, Radiologic Sciences and Clinical Laboratory Sciences Programs. 

“Donning the white coat is an important step in the development of a healthcare professional,” explains Dean Russell J. DiGate.

“We are grateful that so many of our graduates have been willing to sponsor white coats for our students as they enter their professions. It’s a small gesture that means a lot.”

Last October during National Physician Assistant Week, 75 members of the physician assistant (PA) class of 2021 received their short white coats in a ceremony that featured a keynote speech by Dawn Morton-Rias, ‘05Ed.D., PA-C, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants. This is the final undergraduate Physician Assistant class as the program transitions to a master’s degree program. The graduate students will receive their white coats next year.

Also in October, 25 third-year Radiologic Sciences students donned their white coats. This is the year in which these students begin their discipline-specific course work and their clinical rotations, which this year will include for the first time a rotation at Memorial Sloane Kettering Cancer Center. Shawn P. O’Toole RT (R), Radiology Manager at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, one of the program rotation sites, delivered the keynote address.

Students in the Clinical Laboratory Sciences (CLS) program receive their white coats at the start of their fourth and final year, which unlike that of other programs begins in June and runs through to graduation the following May. This year, 10 members of the Class of 2020 received their white coats in a ceremony that featured keynote speaker Giuseppe Pipia BS, MT (ASCP), who was Laboratory Operation Manager at New York Presbyterian/Queens at the time of the event.

The White Coat Ceremony for Doctor of Pharmacy students is held each October as part of the celebration of National Pharmacy Month.  This past year, 195 third year pharmacy students received their white coats and heard an inspiring address on creating unique practice opportunities by Dr. Tina Bayuse, the first pharmacist employed as Lead Pharmacist at JSC Pharmacy Operations.

For students taking their first steps into their desired healthcare professions, the white coat is significant. “At the ceremony, students take an oath to uphold the ethics and principles of the profession, and the coat is a symbol of that promise, “explains Jennifer Chiu, Ed.D., MBA, RT, (R)(CT)(ARRT), Associate Professor and Program Director, Radiologic Sciences.

These ceremonies are important for student families too. “For families, it’s a way to learn about the world their student is entering,” says Lisa Hochstein, MS, MLS (ASCP), Associate Professor and Clinical Laboratory Sciences Program Director. “Often, families don’t know the breadth of our program, so this is a good way for them to understand.”

The important role that alumni play in white coat ceremonies cannot be overestimated.

“When students are in school, there are many professionals who help them along the way. Once they graduate, it’s important to give back,” says Louise Lee, EdD, MHA, PA-C and Physician Assistant Program Director.

“When alumni sponsor a coat, they can include a personal note in the coat pocket. Students are so appreciative of this and receiving these coats and personal messages truly mean so much to them,” she adds.

Alumni interested in sponsoring a white coat for next year’s class may contact: Diana J Patino, Assistant Director of Student Activity and Administration.