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NYITCOM at A-State Class of 2024 Celebrates Virtual White Coat Ceremony

NYITCOM at A-State

JONESBORO, AR – New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine at Arkansas State University’s Class of 2024 celebrated a rite of passage on their medical school journey Monday evening as NYITCOM at A-State held a virtual White Coat Ceremony to formally recognize a milestone event for its 124 first-year student doctors.

Medical students are typically coated at the start of the fall semester with large, in-person gatherings, but this year’s events were held virtually due to the pandemic. However, each member of the Class of 2024 was still recognized for taking the critical first step in their medical education. The ceremony featured a slideshow with the future physicians pictured in their white coat.

“While this is certainly not the white coat ceremony we envisioned for you, it does not diminish the significance of the event in any way,” said Shane Speights, D.O., dean of NYITCOM at Arkansas State. “In fact, during this time of a global health care crisis, it actually becomes more significant.”

Speights’ message referred to the amplified responsibility physicians are currently experiencing as our world battles the COVID-19 pandemic. Those sentiments were echoed by Jerry Balentine, D.O., New York Institute of Technology’s executive vice president and chief operating officer, who reminded the newly-minted medical students of their larger mission in solving today’s most pressing health care challenges.

“In 2020, the white coat has taken on a new meaning and new importance some people started referring to healthcare workers treating COVID patients as heroes,” said. “As much as this was exciting to witness, I also want to remind you that it's always been that way—whether it was HIV, multi-drug resistant TB, or Ebola—this is what we do as physicians,” he said.

The Class of 2024, which began medical school last August, will also be recognized with an in-person white coat ceremony prior to the start of their third-year clinical rotations next summer.

Monday’s ceremony concluded with a message from Amanda Deel, D.O., NYITCOM at A-State associate dean of academic affairs, who reminded the students of the honor and responsibility that comes with wearing the white coat.

“When you put that white coat, we want you to know that you’re following in a line of medical professionals that came before you, paved the way and gave you the ability to introduce yourself as, ‘Student Doctor,’” Deel said. “I want you to do so proudly. I want your coat to glisten. I want you to stand really tall knowing that your white coat brings to your team your intelligence, your training and your expertise.”