The next generation of health care providers

By Alex Branch

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A new generation of physicians, physical therapists, physician assistants and pharmacists formally began their journey into the health care profession Friday at the UNT Health Science Center White Coat Ceremony.

The ceremony is a rite of passage that encourages new students to fulfill a psychological contract for professionalism and empathy as future health care providers. It culminates with the cloaking of students theTexas College of Osteopathic Medicine, School of Health Professions and the UNT System College of Pharmacyin their first white coats and the swearing of a professional oath to acknowledge their new responsibilities.

“The white coat symbolizes the trust between a health care provider and a patient,” said Charles Taylor, PharmD, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.

After the ceremony at Will Rogers Memorial Center Auditorium, students streamed outside and into the arms of parents, spouses, children and friends. Some families brought balloons and flowers to celebrate the occasion. One smiling father walked through the crowd holding high a stick with a picture of his son’s face on it to locate him in the sea of white coats.

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Paige Bowser, a first-year student in the Physician Assistant Studies Program, said that the ceremony and encouraging speeches from fellow students reminded her why she worked hard to get into UNTHSC.

“This feels like a milestone in my life,” said Bowser, who is originally from Michigan. “Wearing this coat makes it feel real. I made it here, and now I have to keep working hard.”

Pharmacy student Johnny Acebo from Katy, Texas, said that when he put on his white coat he felt the expectations that accompanied the achievement.

“It’s great but there are expectations on us all now,” he said. “I’ve always loved chemistry and medicine, and this is the place for me to combine those two passions.”

TCOM student Fatima Rahlouni from Arlington has already earned a PhD in Biomedical Sciences but applied to medical school because she wanted to interact directly with patients.

“I’ve always wanted to help people through medicine,” she said. “Today is a big step.”
 
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