The Class of 2021 Physician Assistant students celebrated the start of their journey into clinical care through the Boston University School of Medicine Physician Assistant (PA) Program at its annual White Coat Ceremony held July 19.
Surrounded by family, faculty and friends, they became the sixth PA student class to receive their white coats at BUSM. Having learned how to complete a history and physical exam in their first semester, 31 students received their white coats as a symbol of their progression to the clinical phase of their education.
The students were greeted by program director Susan White, MD. The keynote speaker was Carl Toney, PA, who served as the inaugural class white coat speaker and is the namesake of the Student Academy of the American Academy of Physician Assistants at BUSM. Mr. Toney is a 1979 graduate of the Duke University PA program who has had a long career in primary care, public health and public policy. His commitment to helping underserved populations is underscored by the positions he has held, including at the Georgia State Office of Rural Health and as Director of the HIV-AIDS and STD programs for the Maine Bureau of Health.
“The coat is very magical – it is a symbol. It is what you will wear on your trip down your individual ‘yellow brick road’ for the next few decades, and the adventures that you will have – the patients you see, the staff that you will get to know and the knowledge that you will accumulate.
“The coat carries a lot of responsibility with it. You stand as beacon, as a guide of hope. Connect yourself with the White Coat and the humanity that it represents, so that every patient that you come in contact with knows, without a doubt, that you are willing to care for them and about them,” Toney concluded.
Following Mr. Toney’s words of wisdom, the students were called up individually to be cloaked in their new white coats by members of the Class of 2020. Emily Louis, PA-SII, president of the Carl Toney Society, led the Physician Assistant Professional Oath. Together, the group recited the summary statement of their professional duties and obligations, and celebrated the milestone with families and friends in attendance at a reception.
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