No matter the age, or how professional the schooling, the first day at a new University will always be scary. Stepping into Orientation week at Salus University, I didn’t know what exactly to expect. I was nervous to start professional school far from home where I knew very few people. Of course, I was also extremely excited to finally be here after working so hard for the opportunity to pursue a career in my dream profession, but I was still anxious. Thankfully I wasn’t the only one, as I could tell early on during Orientation week that many of these students and future health professionals were feeling equally as restless.
The first day was full of congratulations from faculty, welcomes from staff, and introductory ice breakers shared between students. Between the excess of important information and words of wisdom thrown our way, we left feeling possibly more overwhelmed than before we arrived.
However, with each passing day of the week, the academic building became more navigable, the faces on campus became a little more familiar, and the University felt more recognizable. The optional evening activities also helped to lift some of the stress of the week, with Trivia Night and a trip to Dave and Buster’s allowing friendships among peers to form.
Over the course of the week, we learned what it means to be a part of Salus University and also what it means to be invested in a greater health profession society. Being enrolled in professional school and pursuing a career in an admirable field inspires each student to hold themselves to a higher standard. Our week concluded with the ultimate symbolic representation of what it means to be a part of this professional community: the White Coat Ceremony.
On Friday afternoon, when more than 300 new Salus students stood together at the Kimmel Center proudly wearing our white coats, I couldn’t help but appreciate the magnitude of this moment. We are all from different geological locations. We are all at different stages of our lives, some of us married, with kids, engaged, or newly graduated. We are all from different backgrounds, have different stories, and have different paths that lead us to where we are now – but we are all here and all dedicated to the same mission: a passion for healthcare, a commitment to professionalism and a desire to help others. While it may just be a piece of clothing, the white coat symbolizes all of this and more, and the ceremony was a beautiful way to end our Orientation week while representing the start of our professional journey.
As classes pick up this week and the possible stress of the program heightens, I hope to remind myself of this important moment whenever times get rough. It will certainly be a challenging four years but I know this commitment to healthcare and helping others is what will make it all worth it in the end.
-Olivia is a first-year Optometry student at Salus University