Class of 2023 don White Coats

Physician Assistant and Public Health Class of 2023 don White Coats

March 03, 2022
Physician Assistant Class of 2023 pose for a group photo in front of Lander Hall
Physician Assistant Class of 2023

Members of both the Physician Assistant and Master of Public Health programs turned out February 4 to celebrate as the Class of 2023 Joint MSPAS/MPH program in accepting their white coats during their annual White Coat ceremony.

Numerous Touro programs have a White Coat ceremony, each happening at different points throughout the respective journey for those students. For PAs, the ceremony happens as they transition away from the classroom setting and into clinical rotations.

Faculty, administrators and students gathered in person – socially distant and masked – while friends and family watched via Zoom. Guests were plentiful, with PA Program Director Joy Moverley calling the event one of the largest virtual events the program has ever hosted.

She also recognized the amazing challenge this particular class of PAs endured, having been partially virtual and partially in-person for the duration of the COVID pandemic. Added to that was the intensive training PAs undergo, a full battery of medical courses in just under three years.

Moverley noted that these PAs earned their white coats, “after five semesters of drinking from a fire hose.” The PA degree is a joint offering with an MPH degree, with students also completing public health courses along the way.

MPH director Dr. Gayle Cummings told the students that they had endured many challenges and that they were the perfect people to be sent out into the healthcare field at this time.

“The world needs your public health experience … and your compassion,” Dr. Cummings said. “You’re beginning your journey at a critical time … you are in a unique position to be transformational.”

The College of Education and Health Sciences oversees both programs and CEHS Dean Dr. Lisa Norton marveled at the group’s resiliency.

“It’s a crazy world right now,” Dr. Norton said. “You’ve shown up every single day and no other PA class can say they went through all that to get their white coats.”

Touro University California Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr Sarah Sweitzer understood keenly the challenges this particular group of PAs has endured and credited their resolve.

“You’re special to me,” Dr. Sweitzer told the students. “You were my first Zoom class, too. We stumbled our way through, but we made it together.”

For the PAs, the ceremony marked an ending and a beginning. They’ve learned all they could in a classroom setting and must now start over and do it all again in a clinical setting.