TCOM student receives white coat 24 years after attending father’s ceremony
Allison Solby was just an infant when her father, Dr. Steven Solby, received his white coat from the Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth.
The year was 1999, and while Allison was only six weeks old and might have hazy memories of her dad’s special day, she was nevertheless there with the rest of the family cheering him on.
Today, she’s all grown up and following in her father’s footsteps — from diapers to white coat — as she celebrates her own special day on August 25, 2023.
It will be a moment of real pride for the family, to recall baby Allison experiencing her dad’s big moment at such a young age and then later making the same osteopathic medicine journey, to now receiving her own white coat.
“It will be a proud yet surreal experience thinking of getting my first TCOM white coat 24 years ago and now sitting in the audience as my daughter, who was at my ceremony at not yet two months old, receives her first white coat,” said Dr. Solby. “I could not be prouder of Allison and the hard work she has put in to make her dream of going to medical school and becoming a physician a reality.”
While “follower” might be popular vernacular in this day in age, Allison is anything but. Her mother was a graduate of TCU, and Allison herself was a TCU graduate, who was highly coveted.
When it came time to choose a medical school, Allison had plenty of suitors. Five different schools from three states offered her a seat.
“When I was applying, my dad wanted the same medical school experience for me as he had,” she said. “At the same time, it needed to be the right place because I wanted to forge my own path even if my family had a history at different schools.”
The right place was TCOM.
“I remember when I got the email that I had been accepted into TCOM,” Allison said. “It took my breath away. I just had this out-of-body experience. When I called my dad, he teared up and got very emotional. It was just so cool.”
Dr. Solby, an acclaimed anesthesiologist who practices in Mansfield, never pressured or pushed his daughter toward the medical field or TCOM. Going through medical school with an infant is hard and many sacrifices had to be made, all of which left an impression on Allison.
“He always put his patients first,” said Allison.
She also saw the lived experience of osteopathic medicine and was naturally drawn to the profession.
“I want to get to know the patient, and the osteopathic philosophy really fits my personality,” Allision said. “I loved hearing from my dad about how early they got to interact with patients while he was in medical school, and you still get that early exposure to OMM [osteopathic manipulative medicine] today. You get to put your hands on your fellow classmates and understand the body so much more.”
Even with some built-in advantages, Allison has had to learn how to handle medical school on her own, which also gave her a greater appreciation for what her father did with not just one, but two infants while in medical school. Allison’s sister was born right before Dr. Solby began his third year at TCOM and rotations.
“Just the amount of time you have to commit, to not just being in class, but your outside study and learning of the material,” Allision said. “Dad would come in every day — 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. — and be at the end of the day and study. He would want to be with the kids, but he also knew he had to study.”
The entire Solby family understands and appreciates the importance and symbolism that comes with the white coat. Dr. Solby’s brother, Allison’s uncle, is also an anesthesiologist; her grandfather is a chiropractor. Medicine is in the family DNA.
“As a parent, you always wonder what your children will be interested in and what career path they will choose,” Dr. Solby said. “That being said, I do remember thinking that day how great it would be to attend her white coat ceremony one day. The fact this has now become a reality and Allison chose to continue her education at the same medical school I attended makes it even more special.”
For Allison, the white coat represents more than her entrance into the medical field. She’s carrying on a family legacy.
“It’s so cool to follow my passion where it’s no longer just a dream,” she said. “My family has always been so supportive of me. The fact that I was at his white coat ceremony and now we are doing it at the same school with the roles reversed is just amazing.”