White Coat Ceremony Welcomes PA Program Class of 2013


White Coat Ceremony Welcomes PA Program Class of 2013

The PA Program class of 2013 recite the Physician Assistant Oath as part of their white coat ceremony, which was held on June 10.

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine Department of Family and Community Medicine recently welcomed 30 new students to its Physician Assistant (PA) Program. Members of the Class of 2013 were initiated into the program at a white coat ceremony on June 10.

James Van Rhee, MS, PA-C, associate professor of family and community medicine and director of the PA Program, opened the ceremony by extending thanks to Lewis Landsberg, MD, Irving S. Cutter Professor of Medicine and dean emeritus at Feinberg, who was instrumental in launching the program. He also thanked the friends and family who came to show their support for Feinberg’s newest PA students.

The incoming class includes seven men and 23 women. Students hail from 12 states and 25 undergraduate institutions, and boast 21 undergraduate majors — from biology and nutrition to international relations and women’s studies. Entering class members join Feinberg with extensive clinical experience, with the average number of clinical hours per student exceeding 4,000.

“Approximately one out of every 37 program applicants was accepted this year,” said Van Rhee, highlighting the high caliber of students that comprise the class.

After greetings from Van Rhee and Easton Beshears, PA-S, president of the Class of 2012, Gordon Eggers, Jr., PA-C, MPH, president and chief executive officer of Crusader Community Health, presented the keynote address.

Eggers, the first-ever PA to practice in Africa, has provided medical care to underserved patients in the U.S. and across the world throughout his 35-year career. In his talk, he urged students to possess the “three C’s” in their work: character, clinical competence, and compassion.

Faculty advisor Michael MacLean, MS, PA-C, instructor in family and community medicine (right), bestows first-year PA student Philip Knuth with his white coat.

“There are no shortcuts to success; it’s not a straight road,” Eggers said. “You will need intelligence linked to good judgment and an inquisitive nature that allows you to learn actively. Importantly, you will need to learn not only the science of disease, but what the disease means to the person.”

Eggers also addressed the impact of healthcare reform on the PA profession.

“You are entering medicine at an incredibly exciting but complex time,” he said. “Your chosen profession is in high demand, and I know that you will be well equipped to tackle the challenges ahead.”

Following Eggers’ inspirational words, Van Rhee led the Class of 2013 in the recitation of the Physician Assistant Student Oath before faculty advisors bestowed each new member of the PA Program with their first white coat.

First-year student Philip Knuth of Naperville, Ill., was thrilled to participate in the white coat ceremony. Knuth enters the program from a less traditional background than many of his classmates. He recently graduated from National University of Health Sciences with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences. Previously, he spent 10 years as a firefighter-paramedic and 14 years in the Army.

“After years spent engaging as a member of a medical team and serving as an extension of my directing physician’s care, I found myself wanting to further my knowledge, skills, experience, and scope of practice,” said Knuth. “I look forward to the opportunity to study and grow at one of the most respected higher learning institutions. I am excited about the knowledge and skills that I will gain here, as I know they will benefit me for the rest of my career.”

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