It’s the cloak of knowledge. When health care professionals don their
white lab coats, it communicates to patients that the wearer is a person
of skill and command, someone who can help their injury or illness.
Fifty-four new students in the master of physical therapy program at
Western University of Health Sciences (WesternU) will put on their white
coats for the first time during the University’s third annual White Coat
Ceremony on Sunday, January 9. The event will be held at 11 a.m. at the
WesternU Health Professions Center, 309 E. Second Street, Pomona. It marks
the start of the new academic year that begins January 3.
During the program incoming students – before friends, family and faculty –
will slip into their white lab coats and recite the Pledge of Commitment,
a promise to work toward becoming competent and compassionate health care
It is rare for a physical therapy program to offer a white coat ceremony
to its students; the event is typically reserved for medical students.
However, WesternU’s philosophy is that health care is a team effort in
which pharmacists, physician assistants, nurses, doctors and physical
therapists all play equally important roles.
“”In physical therapy a white coat represents the wearer as a professional
with a specific expertise which is used to facilitate the rehabilitation
of the patient,”” said Donna Redman-Bentley, PT, PhD, chair of the
department of physical therapy education at WesternU. “”In practice, the
white coats are usually worn by physical therapists in the acute care or
Neeka Minor, a second-year physical therapy student at WesternU, remembers
trying on her white coat for the first time in 1997.
“”The ceremony was important to me, it represented the donning of our
future, not only as students at WesternU but also as clinicians,”” Minor
said. “”It’s a great way to start graduate school!””