WHITTIER, CA – (Jan. 19, 2023) — Southern California University of Health Sciences (SCU) recognized 50 Master of Science: Physician Assistant (MSPA) students today with a white coat ceremony held at 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.”
“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.”
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 2023 include:
The SCU MSPA program currently accepts a maximum of 50 students per class. The 50 students were chosen from over 1,200 applicants and over 200 interviews.
The keynote speaker was Ashley Larsen, MPA, PA-C, Associate Program Director of Clinical Education, MSPA program, while remarks were given by Roshalda Williams, PA-C, Associate Program Director of Didactic Education, MSPA program.
PA Larsen provided the students with the history of the white coat, the meaning of the white coat and the history of white coat ceremonies. She also talked about what the white coat means to patients, and that the white coat is a symbol of donning a multitude of responsibilities and privileges.
“This ceremony will join the symbol of the white coat with the virtues of altruism, responsibility, duty, honor, respect and compassion,” said PA Larsen. “Donning this white coat comes with an enormous amount of pride, but also an enormous amount of responsibility. Donning this white coat today means that you are now joining a group that takes care of patients and there are certain privileges and responsibilities that come with that new role. The distinction of your coat being short represents that you are still in training and serves as a symbol to be easily recognized by patients and members of the medical community. At the conclusion of your training, you will earn your long coat as a Physician Assistant.”
PA Larsen continued, “I hope that as you don your white coats today among your peers, faculty, staff, and your loved ones that you remember what your white coat will mean to your patients. Remember what your white coat represents to you. Remember what your white coat will go through over the next 12 months. What stories will your white coat tell us when you have completed this program? We all cannot wait to hear about your, and your white coats journey through the next 12 months. There will be tears, sweat and bodily fluids, but in the end you will join us in being a Physician Assistant.”
The MSPA program students take academic and clinical courses, including 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, and perform and assist in surgeries.
The 50 MSPA program students who were recognized today will begin clinical rotations during the Spring 2023 term and will graduate in December 2023.
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.