HIGH POINT, N.C., June 7, 2015 – High Point University’s Physician Assistant Studies Program welcomed its inaugural cohort of students at the university’s first-ever White Coat Ceremony today. More than 800 applicants competed for 20 spots in the class.
“This inaugural event is a milestone for the PA Program and for High Point University,” says Dr. Linda Sekhon, founding chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies. “Today, our students have donned their white coats for the first time. This is a tangible symbol of the extraordinary journey they have embarked upon. The oath they took during the ceremony is the first step on this journey. They are pledging their intent to ethical and honorable behavior as a student and future PA.”
HPU president Dr. Nido Qubein and provost Dr. Dennis Carroll received honorary white coats at the ceremony for their dedication and spearheading of the PA program.
“This isn’t about going to school for 27 months, getting a degree and becoming a physician assistant,” says Qubein. “This is about committing your life to becoming a relevant health care provider at a time in America when we desperately need more health care providers who are excellent, have the right disposition and an attitude that is overflowing with gratitude.”
When the first class of students graduate in 2017, it will be the 50th anniversary of the Physician Assistant profession. The profession of Physician Assistant commenced in 1967 and was founded by Dr. Eugene Stead.
“This has been something that I have been working for, and to see it finally happen is a dream come true for me,” says Megan Anderson, HPU PA student. “I loved being able to put the white coat on and know that everything I have worked for has led me to this and is a symbol for everything that I am going to continue to work for.”
Fifty-five percent of HPU’s clinical sites for PA students are within five miles of campus, while 80 percent of clinical sites are within 20 miles. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of physician assistants is projected to grow 38 percent from 2012 to 2022, much faster than the average for most occupations.
High Point University has broken ground on an $85 million building to house the School of Health Sciences and School of Pharmacy. Physician Assistant Studies is the first of three new programs that will be housed in the complex. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology, prestigious faculty and newly designed curriculum, the schools will create a cornerstone for medical innovation at HPU.
“It has been a great experience going from being an HPU undergraduate to becoming a part of this PA program,” says James Williams, 2015 HPU graduate and PA student. “I had a wonderful four years at HPU and I came here because it is a God, family and country school. Most of all, I want to see this program grow tremendously and 10 years from now have a patient come into my office and say ‘How did you get into HPU’s PA program? They are exceptional and one of the best.’”
The white coat, worn by medical professionals, is often seen as a symbol of authority, purity, professionalism, caring and trust. Since its inception in 1993, the White Coat Ceremony has become a national and international phenomenon among medical schools. The ceremony was designed to welcome new medical students into the medical profession and alert beginning students to the need to balance excellence in science with compassionate patient care. It has since been adopted by hundreds of colleges and universities involved in the education and training of a variety of health and medical professions, including the physician assistant.