June 7, 2019 — When first-year physician assistant student Jarrod Kearney reached into the pocket of his brand-new white coat Friday afternoon, he found an inspiring message from someone who knew exactly what it feels like to don a PA white coat for the first time.
“Strive to keep the excitement and energy that has gotten you this far. While the system often demands otherwise, focus on your patients and show them you care,” Hector Bird, MPAS ’15, wrote on Kearney’s ‘words of wisdom’ card, one of which was placed in each student’s coat. “I promise you’re ready for whatever else may lie ahead.”
Kearney says the message was just one instance of encouragement he consistently receives from faculty, classmates and alumni as a student at the UF School of Physician Assistant Studies.
“It’s inspiring to see someone who’s pioneered the way tell us we can accomplish what lies ahead. This program’s always been so uplifting,” Kearney says.
Kearney and 61 fellow members of the class of 2020 received even more words of wisdom from leadership during the 12th annual White Coat Ceremony, held in the Health Professions, Nursing, Pharmacy Complex auditorium Friday afternoon.
Nina Multak, Ph.D., PA-C, associate dean and director of the UF School of Physician Assistant Studies, began the ceremony by explaining the significance of the white coat to the students, who receive it as their first academic year ends and their clinical year begins. She also offered some tips for what to stock in those white coat pockets.
“I suggest you put tissues in the pocket of your white coats. I want you to listen to your patients — not just to what’s the matter with them but what matters to them,” Multak said. “You go through heartbreak and joy with your patients. You’ll find that sometimes your patients become your teachers.”
Joseph A. Tyndall, M.D., MPH, interim dean of the UF College of Medicine and chair of the department of emergency medicine, congratulated the class of 2020 for being part of a program ranked No. 21 among 238 accredited PA programs in the nation.
“When you don this white coat, this becomes a sacred responsibility. You’re committing yourself to lifelong learning,” Tyndall said.
First-year physician assistant student Kristen Moeller said, “My white coat is a reminder of all the work we’ve put in over this past year and all the patience and passion we’re going to put in next year.”