White Coat Ceremony Initiates First Class of Students to Feinberg PA Program
The 30 members of the Physician Assistant Program inaugural class hail from 23 states and 20 undergraduate institutions, and boast 20 undergraduate majors.
The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Department of Family and Community Medicine recently welcomed its first class of students to the new Physician Assistant (PA) Program. Members of the Class of 2012 — comprised of a talented group of experienced professionals, including a former nurse, a phlebotomist, and a pharmacy technician — were initiated into the program at a White Coat Ceremony held in the Robert H. Lurie Cancer Medical Research Center on June 4.
The 30 members of the Class of 2012 include six men and 24 women. Students hail from 23 states and 20 undergraduate institutions, and boast 20 undergraduate majors — from biology and chemistry, to history and nuclear medicine technology.
Entering class members join Feinberg with extensive clinical experience. In fact, the average number of clinical hours exceeds 2,800. The Class of 2012 also includes two Northwestern Memorial Hospital employees and another student who played professional basketball in Europe. Collectively, the students speak eight different languages, including Greek, Malayalam, and Marathi.
|Lewis Landsberg, MD, Irving S. Cutter Professor of Medicine and dean emeritus at Feinberg was instrumental in launching the program. He was chosen to open the ceremony and welcomed the students to the medical school.|
Lewis Landsberg, MD, Irving S. Cutter Professor of Medicine and dean emeritus at Feinberg, who was instrumental in launching the program, was chosen to open the event, welcoming this carefully selected group of students to the medical school.
“You will have to work hard, but I’m confident that you will all have a secure and productive career,” said Landsberg, adding that the students will play a significant role in the delivery of healthcare, particularly in this period of transformation. “Healthcare reform brings with it a strong focus on primary care and care of chronic diseases — specialties where physician assistants are able to have an enormous impact.”
While Landsberg provided the welcome, incoming student Margaret Wilson, 22, of Ann Arbor, Mich., insisted she already felt like part of the Feinberg family. Wilson, who has a bachelor’s degree in brain behavior and cognitive sciences from the University of Michigan, connected with future classmates through the program’s Facebook page. Prior to attending the PA Potluck and the white coat ceremony, Wilson had already attended a concert and had dinner with fellow students that she had become acquainted with online. While making new friends is certainly a bonus, Wilson added that the ceremony held great significance for her, as she is truly passionate about the PA profession.
“I love healthcare and want to make a difference,” Wilson said. “Being a physician assistant means I’ll have the flexibility to pursue different areas of interest and be a part of this changing field of practice.”
Bechara Choucair, MD, adjunct assistant professor in the Feinberg Department of Family and Community Medicine and Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Public Health, continued the celebration by providing the keynote address.
“I hope that you will train to be culturally competent caregivers,” said Choucair, who also appealed for students to consider big picture issues like public policy.
Choucair went on to remind students that no matter what their training, they should consider themselves active, lifelong learners of the science and practice of medicine — never losing sight of the real rewards that come from helping patients heal.
“I am confident that you will be happy with your chosen career path,” he added. “This really is an exciting time for physician assistants.”
|James Van Rhee, MS, PA-C, director of the PA Program and associate professor in the Feinberg Department of Family and Community Medicine, is excited about the caliber of students in the program. He greeted the Class of 2012 at the event.|
No one could have been more thrilled with the caliber of students entering the program than James Van Rhee, MS, PA-C, associate professor in the Feinberg Department of Family and Community Medicine and director of the PA Program.
“Approximately one out of every six applicants to our program was accepted this year,” he said.
Van Rhee said he’s looking forward to the energy this diverse group of students will bring to the program and the department. He is also excited to rollout the innovative curriculum that has been specially developed for the first class of students.
“We will be offering a hybrid lecture- and problem-based curriculum that will prepare students to take care of patients, while assisting them in becoming life-long learners and competent consumers of medical literature and research,” said Van Rhee.
For classes like “Bioethics and Organization” and “Economics of Medicine,” PA students will participate in inter-professional learning alongside students in the Doctor of Medicine program.
“By joining PA and medical students together in the classroom, we hope to elicit differing points of view that will make discussions more stimulating,” Van Rhee added.
Incoming student Suniti Warey, 28, of Fremont, Calif., will surely be able to offer that varied perspective. Warey majored in cinema as an undergraduate at the University of Southern California and has spent the past few years working in television in Los Angeles. Warey said she’s thrilled to be shifting her focus from entertainment to healthcare, as she has always had an interest in helping people.
Feinberg’s program was a perfect fit for me because of the medical school’s strong reputation and location in Chicago,” Warey said. “Also, it’s really exciting to be here now, in the program’s infancy.”