The College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP) Class of 2014 celebrated its transition from the classroom to the clinic.

The first COMP Student Clinician Ceremony, held April 30, 2012, featured keynote speaker and COMP alumnus William Henning, DO ’86, and words of advice from WesternU President Philip Pumerantz, PhD, and COMP Dean Clinton Adams, DO.

“You’re going to be someone’s doctor,” Pumerantz said to the students. “That’s an awesome thought. You’re going to care for somebody. You’re going to make a difference in their lives. You’re also going to bring with you a sense of compassion and caring for people.”

Adams reminded the students of the message drilled into them when they first started: “You‘re never going to know everything. The importance of that is knowing when you don’t know, and asking for help. It’s OK to ask for help.”

He told students it’s better to ask a “stupid” question than to look like you don’t care.

“Not knowing is OK, but what’s not OK is not being a professional,” Adams said. “You can’t slack in this profession. Every day, every minute, is important.”

Henning said the key to success is found in the tenets of the Osteopathic Pledge of Commitment — holistic, patient-centered care, compassion, commitment to quality, integrity and professionalism. These same qualities infuse your whole life, he said.

“It’s not just what you do when you’re interacting with a patient, it’s who you are, and it’s why you were chosen to sit in that seat,” he said.

The other key to success is excellent training, said Henning, who is president of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons of California and chief medical officer of the Inland Empire Health Plan.

“I’ve been where you are, and I can tell you, you have the best training in the state of California,” he said.

The students, who recited their Class of 2014 Vision Statement during the ceremony, were both excited and nervous about this next stage in their medical education.

“I’m looking forward to applying what I learned in classes,” said Sumerra Khan, DO ’14. “It went by so fast. I can’t believe I’m starting rotations.”

The students completed their preclinical education on WesternU’s Pomona campus and will begin clinical training via rotation through each of the major medical disciplines (family practice, internal medicine, surgery, pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, pathology, psychiatry, emergency medicine and radiology).

The ceremony is designed to acknowledge the enormity of students’ transition from classroom learning as a consumer of education to being someone who provides care and who functions as a healer, said COMP Director of Clinical Education Stephanie White, DO.

“I felt passionate about really reflecting in this moment and honoring the students for what they’ve achieved so far, but also setting a tone for professionalism and self-reflection moving forward into their third and fourth years,” she said.

The first two years of medical education set the foundation, like an immersion program for someone learning a new language. The third and fourth years are like a study abroad program.

“These students are going from being in the classroom, in a relatively safe environment, to really being immersed with strangers in new cities all over the country, and practicing medicine,” White said. “This is where they’ll learn the culture. They’ll learn to communicate as physicians. They’ll hone all their physical exam skills and make that final push before graduation of really learning how to function as a physician.”