By Kate Hunger
The Department of Physician Assistant Studies held its annual white coat ceremony on May 16, with 48 students receiving their short white coats.
The Frank M. Tejeda Ceremony for the Class of 2021 represented a milestone for students, who also received their pins from the president of the Texas Academy of Physician Assistants (TAPA) and recited the PA professional oath.
“It’s a right of passage for students to signify they are entering a profession of compassion,” said Leticia Bland, DHsc, MPAS, PA-C, admissions chair and assistant professor/clinical. “It signifies you are putting this commitment on your shoulders.”
The white coat represents the responsibility of the profession, says Caitlin Schwein, president of the Physician Assistant Class of 2020. She received her white coat last year.
“I’ve always considered it to be symbolic of walking into a new career and a new phase of life,” she said. “Once you have that white coat, it’s a wakeup call—I have people’s lives in my hands.”
The ceremony is named in honor of the late U.S. Rep. Frank M. Tejeda, whose efforts supported legislation that fostered the collaboration between UT Health Science Center and the Interservice Physician Assistant Program at Fort Sam Houston, which led to the current Physician Assistant Studies program at the School of Health Professions.