PCOM Georgia held its commencement May 27 at Ameris Bank Amphitheatre in Alpharetta, graduating 246 physicians, pharmacists and physical.
The Class of 2021 includes 130 Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine graduates, 83 Doctor of Pharmacy graduates, and 33 Doctor of Physical Therapy graduates. The physical therapy students make up the first class to graduate from Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine’s physical therapy program that began in 2018.
From the stage in the outdoor amphitheater, PCOM President Jay S. Feldstein, DO, addressed the graduates who were wearing academic hoods in varying shades of green to distinguish their programs.
“You were — and will continue to be — on the front lines: treating and caring for patients in the holistic manner that is part of your osteopathic heritage,” Feldstein said. “You will call out social injustice when you see it — because you witnessed it, because you lived it — and you will advocate for your patients because they will need you like never before.”
“I have never been more proud of a class of students. Go forth and make use of your gifts for the betterment of the world!”
Three speakers, who were awarded honorary doctoral degrees, addressed the socially distanced graduates and their family members. They included Richard H. Jadick, DO, who is considered the most decorated physician to serve in the Iraq War; Christy M. Norman, PharmD, the president-elect of the Georgia Society of Health-System Pharmacists, and Phillip B. Palmer, PT, PhD, the founding PCOM Georgia Department of Physical Therapy professor and chair.
Jadick encouraged the graduates to “put your mark on the art of medicine.” He also urged them to “respect the power of your white coat because at times it will be your blanket for comfort and will hide your fear, at other times it will be your superman cape that allows you to go into battle, but most often it will be heavy … from the weight of responsibility.”
Noting that there are upsides to loss, Norman said: “the pandemic created a crisis that required us all to adapt and evolve in ways that otherwise may have taken years or decades or potentially lifetimes to occur.”
In his address to the graduates, Palmer said, “You did it because we worked together, you used the tools provided appropriately, and you never lost sight of the dream … Go out and change your world!”
Mary P. Owen, JD, PhD, was the first retired PCOM Georgia professor to be recognized as a Professor Emerita, which marks her distinguished service to the College.
In addition, Andrea Mann, DO, who assumed the role of dean and chief academic officer of the osteopathic medicine program this spring, addressed the graduates.
She said, “In the few months that I have had the pleasure of serving as your dean, I have witnessed a class of students who have exhibited maturity, grace, and, most importantly, resilience in a highly uncertain time.
“As a physician, being resilient is perhaps one of the most essential qualities to possess. This last year has challenged each and every one of us and you in so many ways. However, it has also provided a valuable gift — it has taught you how to be resilient.”
The day before the commencement ceremony, a gathering took place to recognize Class of 2021 members of Sigma Sigma Phi, the honorary osteopathic medicine service fraternity. A separate military pinning ceremony occurred in a tent at the Suwanee campus where four military graduates received their pins and took their oaths.
Ensign Morgan Fuller, DO, and Ensign Robert Snyder, DO, will serve in the United States Navy, while Captain Monika Kc, Do and Captain Timothy Yang, DO will serve in the United States Air Force.