Lipscomb University’s first 35 physician assistant studies students celebrated the completion of their first semester on Jan. 4 with a symbolic rite of passage to welcome them into the medical profession: receiving their white coats with PA patches. During the ceremony, Dr. Stephen Heffington, program director for Lipscomb’s School of Physician Assistant Studies, displayed his confidence in their future as professionals by reminding them that they are now bound into the same professional commitments that binds all physicians.
“Wearing your white coat represents the journey you are about to embark on,” said Heffington. “It symbolizes the professionalism you are called to demonstrate, and it embodies the health care profession you have become a part of. With this white coat you… have a responsibility to truly appreciate the opportunity you have been granted to enter into people’s lives in the most trying of times.”
The white coat ceremony symbolizes the beginning of a new journey, and as the first PA class to receive their white coats at Lipscomb, this ceremony celebrates a milestone for both the students and the university.
In addition to donning their white coats, students took the oath of a physician assistant to show their commitment to protect their patients and to uphold the standards of their profession.
Heffington said professionalism was a consistent theme during the students’ first semester, and these white coats now serve as a designation of that professionalism.
“However, the white coat represents so much more than just your skills, or your knowledge, or your ability to make a diagnosis as a health care provider. This white coat symbolizes the professionalism you will be called to demonstrate each and every day with each and every encounter you have.”
After receiving more than 800 applications and receiving provisional accreditation by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, the PA program’s first cohort began in October with 35 students from 24 universities and 19 states. The program is seven semesters long, divided into a 15-month didactic phase and a 12-month clinical phase.
The program offers students an inter-professional education, extensive hands-on clinical opportunities and exposure to modern technology.
The PA program will take advantage of Lipscomb’s long history of excellent preparation in the sciences and health sciences in cohesion with the extensive resources Nashville has to offer as one of the world’s health care capitals.