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A class photo of the Master of Science Physician Assistant students after receiving their white coats.

Southern California University of Health Sciences hosts White Coat Ceremony for Physician Assistant students

WHITTIER, CA – (Jan. 20, 2022)Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU) recognized 48 Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) students today with a white coat ceremony held outdoors, on the SCU campus in Whittier. The ceremony transitions students from the didactic portion of the program into supervised clinical practice, symbolizing their entrance into the healthcare field.

 The White Coat Ceremony is considered a rite of passage for PA students and is designed to instill the values of professionalism, humanism and compassionate care with students reciting the Physician Assistant Professional Oath.

“The white coat symbolizes the caring, commitment, trust and respect associated with the healthcare profession. The White Coat Ceremony marks the beginning of our students’ intensive journey to becoming physician assistants,” said SCU President John Scaringe, DC, EdD. “Our faculty, staff and our healthcare partners are committed to supporting the success of these students. It is our hope that today’s ceremony will be remembered by our students each and every time they see a patient, five, 10 or even 50 years from today and with every act of care to the patients who trust them.”  

Today marked the first in-person MSPA white coat ceremony, since prior to the pandemic. The live-streamed virtual ceremony will be available for on-demand viewing on SCU’s YouTube channel

“As future Physician Assistants, these students will fill a critical need in healthcare in the region, especially among underserved populations,” said SCU MSPA Program Director Melanie Catalano, MSPA, PA-C. “These students are taking the first step as future physician assistants at a time when the world needs them now, more than ever. Our celebration was kept small as we continue to live with the pandemic, but it doesn’t diminish the immense pride we have in our PA students,” she said.

SCU is continuing several traditions, such as training students with strong ties to Southern California, welcoming students from across the nation and matriculating greater numbers of women in health sciences. Unique statistics about the SCU MSPA Class of 2022 include:   

  • 32 out of 48 students are California residents
  • 16 out-of-state students hail from Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia
  • 29 females and 21 males
  • Age range of 21 to 38 years old

 The SCU MSPA Program currently accepts a maximum of 50 students per class. The 50 students were chosen from over 1,200 applicants and nearly 200 interviews.

 Speakers included SCU MSPA Program Director Melanie Catalano, MSPA, PA-C, Ashley Larsen, MPA, PA-C, Roshalda Williams, PA-C, and SCU Assistant Provost, Academic Initiatives, Michael Ramcharan, M.D., DC, MPH, Ed.D.

The MSPA program students take academic and clinical courses, clinical skills training and supervised clinical practice, resulting in a Master of Science: Physician Assistant degree. Upon completion, PAs are qualified to conduct physical exams, diagnose and treat illnesses, order and interpret tests, write prescriptions, perform and assist in surgeries.

The 48 MSPA program students who were recognized today will begin clinical rotations during the Spring 2022 term and will graduate in December 2022.

The MSPA program prepares graduates to sit for the Physician Assistant National Certification Examination (PANCE). For more information about the Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) Program, visit the SCU MSPA program page.

 SCU, Southern California’s first and only chiropractic school, has educated more than 18,000 healthcare providers since it was founded in 1911.

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