Recently, 30 members of the Master of Science in Health Sciences in Physician Assistant Studies Class of 2021 and 33 members of the Doctor of Physical Therapy Class of 2021 at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine-Georgia received their white coats, a symbolic ceremony and milestone for the medical students.

Students' family and friends, include the traditional donning of the white coat which symbolizes the transition from the classroom toward a clinical setting. The Physician Assistant Studies students recited the Pledge of Professionalism in unison, while the Physical Therapy students signed the Physical Therapy Code of Ethics. Following the ceremony, photo-taking commenced as the PCOM Georgia students proudly wore their white coats.

At Infinite Energy Center on Aug. 23, PA students listened to an address from Anna McFather, a graduate of the inaugural PCOM Georgia PA Studies class. She advised students to “keep your heads up, work hard and take it day by day.” With a condensed schedule and a packed curriculum, she said students must use time management skills, including time for family and friends.

James Becker, assistant professor and clinical studies coordinator of PA Studies, spoke about the rigorous admissions requirements that fielded 1,000 applicants for 30 slots in the program.

He also said class of 2021 had a grand total of 77,246 hours of health-related experience in a variety of areas such as medical assistants, phlebotomists, pharmacy technicians and medical scribes before setting foot on PCOM Georgia’s campus.

The class also contributed 16,891 hours in volunteering, from delivering surgical supplies to rural hospitals in Nicaragua, to preparing and serving food for the homeless and raising money for children with cancer. Class members also participated in leadership roles, research, international mission trips, NCAA collegiate athletics and the Armed Forces.

“You already have a little over twelve and a half years of making this world a better place,” Becker said. “I can’t wait to see what will happen with this group of already very successful individuals as they collectively tackle the next twelve and a half years.”

The PT students received their white coats in a ceremony held at the Peachtree Ridge High School Theater on Aug. 24, featuring keynote speaker Daniel Dale, president of the Physical Therapy Association of Georgia. His speech was a call to action in which he quoted Walt Disney and Nelson Mandela.

“The difference in winning and losing is most often not quitting,” he said, first quoting Disney, then Mandela. “Do not judge me by my success; judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

Dale compared students' hands, heads and hearts to simple tools to “carry out a successful career every single day.”

“It is only when you allow your heart to guide the work of your head and your hands that you will truly come to realize your ultimate potential,” he said.