For the first time, Salus hosted its White Coat Ceremony at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. As the venue is also used for Spring Commencement, the stage in the Center’s Verizon Hall now marks two monumental celebrations for Salus students – the transition from student to healthcare provider and the transition to a practicing professional.
More than 300 new students in the University’s Optometry, Audiology, Physician Assistant Studies, Occupational Therapy and Speech-Language Pathology programs received their white coats and pledged their Oath of Professionalism, marking the beginning of their journey as health practitioners.
Provost and vice president for academic affairs, Dr. Janice Scharre, along with president Dr. Michael H. Mittelman welcomed students and their families to witness the first professional step in the students’ healthcare careers.
“You always have to keep in mind that being a healthcare professional is a privilege,” Dr. Mittelman said. “From this day forward, every one of you will be held to a higher standard. You’ve worked really hard for the opportunity to positively affect the lives of others, now you’ve got to keep at it.”
As the culminating event during orientation week, Dr. Mittelman wanted to stress the importance of determination and perseverance both in the classroom and in clinical settings over the next few years.
“It’s time to give it 110 percent as you enter your respective programs because your patients are going to deserve nothing less,” he said.
Keynote speaker Vice Adm. Forrest Faison, U.S. Navy surgeon general, addressed the crowd by explaining the history, significance and symbolism of the white coat.
“Welcome to the profession of caring, healing and making a difference in the lives of others,” he said. “You’re joining a profession of service. It’s said that a life is well lived and is best lived when it is lived in service to others. The white coat you put on [today] is the embodiment of that commitment. It’s not just a garment. It represents hope and compassion for every patient you will touch now and until you leave the profession.”
Vice Adm. Faison engaged the crowd by asking them to take out their smartphones to find a photo of a loved one and share with the person next to them why they are loved. The exercise helped further instill the idea of being a holistic healthcare provider.
“Remember this, every patient you will ever touch is a photo on somebody else’s smartphone,” he said. “Remember that and be worthy of that trust.”