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On Thursday evening, January 21, 2016, the inaugural class of 20 UNC Physician Assistant Studies program students received their white coats at the Carolina Club’s Alumni Hall.

The UNC School of Medicine’s Physician Assistant Studies program launched January 4, 2016, with support and collaboration from Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. Last week the program celebrated its inaugural class of students with its White Coat Ceremony. Announced in 2012, the program’s first class of 20 students includes nine veterans. This program is designed to support veterans who have extensive medical training and wish to become a PA. This program is also designed to combat the shortage of health care personnel in North Carolina, with particular focus on the state’s rural areas. Two current PA program students shared their experiences of the ceremony:

“The white coat ceremony was representative of so much. The culmination of a long road of preparation but also the work we have ahead of us over the next two years.To be a part of the inaugural white coat ceremony at UNC was such an honor and I was so happy my family was there to share it with me.” –Codie Novak Wiley, UNC PA program student

“The white coat ceremony was a moment when all of the stress and  preparation to get here didn’t matter. It was all worth it. PA school is super-competitive by nature, so being able to take this journey as a member of UNC’s inaugural class was a major accomplishment. These next two years will be a ride unlike anything else, but we will all come out on the other end as strong and sharp PAs that will take great care of our patients.” –Kami Harris, UNC PA program student

Back row, left to right: Marc Difronzo, Mary Garner, Riti Shah, Traci Little, Katelyn Joyner, Angel Legare, Gabrielle Neri-Mynatt, Eulalia Barajas-Graham, Leana Higgins, Alyse Moses-Lebron

Front row, left to right: Bruce Ward, David Manning, Daniel Taylor, Natalie Ford, Codie Wiley, Curtis Carr, Christopher Orange, Richard Cowan, Johnny Pitts, Kami Harris

The UNC School of Medicine Physician Assistant Studies White Coat Ceremony was made possible with a grant from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. 

The tradition of coat ceremonies began relatively recently at the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University in 1993. Conceived by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, the purpose of this ceremony is to emphasize the primacy of care to the individual patient in addition to the care of patients at the outset of their medical training. The ceremony provides the humanistic, philosophical grounding for the exacting, scientifically based training that students will receive. Caring (humanism) is coequal with and often, by necessity, transcends curing (science). The ceremony is marked by the presence of eminent leaders, faculty, and educators from the institution. Family members are invited to attend. Students recite the Hippocratic Oath and pledge to practice medicine with compassion, diligence, rectitude, and scientific rigor.