PCOM Georgia Student Doctors Receive White Coats

Staff Report

Monday, October 18th, 2021

PCOM Georgia held its 17th Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine White Coat Ceremony on Friday, October 8, 2021, in which 138 student doctors, members of the Class of 2025, received their white coats. Faculty members Gary Freed, DO, Shafik Habal, MD, and Donald Penney, MD, helped the students into their coats on the stage of the Gas South Convention Center in Duluth. 

In a videotaped message, Jay S. Feldstein, DO ‘81, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine president and CEO, welcomed the students to the ceremony which he described as a rite of passage. 

“Donning your white coat signifies your official journey into the osteopathic medicine profession,” he said.

As part of the invocation, Chief Campus Officer Bryan Ginn shared his personal experience as a 16-day hospital inpatient with COVID-19 and what healthcare providers in white coats meant to him. 

“I can’t begin to tell you how much my personal regard for those in the white coat grew – their professionalism in every way, their ability to effectively address difficult topics about treatments and possible outcomes, their ability to speak with confidence when they were certain of the pathways ahead, and to speak with vulnerability and honesty when there was uncertainty about what to do next.”

Ginn said, “I am privileged and I am blessed to be here today to ask for God’s blessings on you as you will perhaps serve as the manifestation of humanity to your patients.”

Madison Cohen, chair of the Class of 2025, reminded her peers that the white coat is a symbol of all the work they’ve done to become medical students. 

“You are here because you wanted to make a difference, to commit your life to helping other people. This white coat is a symbol of the commitment you have made.”

New Dean and Chief Academic Officer of the osteopathic medicine program, Andrea P. Mann, DO, served as the host of her first PCOM Georgia White Coat Ceremony. She shared with the students that the coat is similar to a uniform, although it is only an article of clothing. “It’s the doctor inside the coat that really matters,” she said.

Dr. Mann suggested that the students consider five tips to help them be the best physicians possible.

  • “Listen, really listen. Your patient will tell you the diagnosis 95 percent of the time.”

  • “Be kind and compassionate. To each person their concern matters.”

  • “Be humble and authentic. Share your knowledge and expertise, but listen to your patients’ perspectives and potential barriers.”

  • “Be present and love what you do. Enjoy the privilege of sharing your patients’ life journeys.

  • “Keep your cup full. Self-care is not only important; it’s actually essential.”

She noted that the students are accepting a tremendous responsibility when they wear their white coats. “We believe in you. We are confident in your abilities. We know that you will do amazing things. We are certain you will practice high quality, evidence-based medicine and display humanism,” she said.

 Ugo Bitussi, DO ’14, a 2014 PCOM Georgia graduate who completed his residency in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and now practices at the Atlanta Rehabilitation Consultants, addressed the graduates. He said, “Let your white coat serve as a symbol to remind yourself to look inward and cultivate yourself to bring your best self forward.”