Western University of Health Sciences College of Podiatric Medicine (CPM) held its White Coat ceremony for 50 incoming Class of 2024 students via Zoom Friday, Aug. 7, 2020.
“The University has many traditions that have evolved over the past 40 years,” said CPM Dean V. Kathleen Satterfield, DPM, FACFAOM. “However, this particular ceremony is significant in that it truly symbolizes our institutional and educational philosophy of educating skilled and compassionate health care professionals who are excellent in science and compassionate in caregiving. You have my highest regard and I wish you much success this year.”
CPM and the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific held White Coat ceremonies Aug. 7, capping Welcome Week activities that were mostly virtual. Other WesternU colleges plan to hold ceremonies later in the academic year.
WesternU President Daniel R. Wilson, MD, PhD, provided a video message and WesternU Board of Trustees Secretary John Forbing also welcomed students to the University.
“By having a ceremony where entering students are cloaked with their very first white lab coat, we are calling attention to the individual’s choice to become a doctor,” Forbing said.
“And of equal importance, bringing to focus the true meaning of their choice that you must cure but also care. Students, soon you will be cloaked with your first white coat. Wear it as a badge of pride symbolizing your choice to become a doctor of podiatric medicine. You will graduate with a better understanding of what other health professionals do, and you will also know how to participate in and promote a team approach to patient care and health care management.”
California Podiatric Medical Association (CPMA) President Adam Howard, DPM, explained how CPMA has been supporting podiatrists during the COVID-19 pandemic by offering daily updates and assistance in keeping practices solvent. He urged students to join professional organizations to keep up with health care plan changes and legislative efforts and to stay connected to the profession. He also welcomed them to the profession.
“This will be your opportunity to shine, to become the person that you want to be,” Howard said. “You are becoming a healer, a teacher, and patients will look to you for guidance and, in some cases, hope. Do not take this lightly. Even as a student, your brief interactions with patients will have a permanent effect on their life and their well-being.”
Rod Warren, vice president and national sales director for MedPro, also provided advice to students. MedPro is the oldest and largest malpractice insurance company in the U.S., he said. Even the best doctors sometimes face lawsuits, Warren said. Problems start to snowball when the doctor-patient relationship breaks down. Preventing this breakdown starts with communication and educating doctors the right way, which is what WesternU is doing, he said.
“You cannot let yourself become a physician that forgets what started you down this life path that you’re on right now,” Warren said. “You cannot let yourself be the student that focuses on just science, and forgets the power of how your patient feels because in the end that is what you’re doing it for. You cannot forget while saving life and limb, you are also saving the spirit of your patient.”
Each student put on their white coat, either by themselves or assisted by a friend or family member. The Class of 2024 CPM students then celebrated with their parents, significant others, children, friends and pets.
“Let’s congratulate all of them. What a wonderful class,” Satterfield said. “I’ve just been sitting here beaming from ear to ear watching the lovely families and friends with you. It’s a big day for everybody.”