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Western University of Health Sciences held a white coat ceremony June 23, 2019 at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California to welcome 80 young men and women from across the country into the health professions and the Summer Health Professions Education Program (SHPEP).

WesternU received a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to provide an intensive residential summer enrichment program supporting students with fully paid housing and board as well as stipends. WesternU is one of 12 institutions nationwide hosting SHPEP, which encourages students from financially disadvantaged families and groups underrepresented in medicine to enter health professions.

College of Dental Medicine Dean Steven Friedrichsen, DDS, gave the keynote address to the entering 2019 SHPEP cohort. In his speech he addressed the significance of the white coat as a symbol of a humanistic health care provider. WesternU clinical faculty helped cloak each student in a white coat to signify their future career path.

The program provides opportunities for rising college sophomores and juniors interested in medicine, dental medicine, optometry or physical therapy to engage in these professions for the duration of the program. Every week the students will start their morning introduced to a new clinical case by one of the WesternU clinical faculty. The afternoon curriculum will engage the students in hands-on activities focused on the health professions. Faculty from WesternU’s nine colleges and current students have also committed to serve as mentors and instructors for various SHPEP activities.