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The University of South Alabama College of Medicine held its annual White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2019 on Saturday, June 17, 2017. During the ceremony, rising third-year medical students were cloaked with white coats, the traditional dress of physicians for more than 100 years.
Several students in the Class of 2019 were celebrating the day alongside their parents who are members of the USA College of Medicine faculty. These faculty members -- Drs. Bassam Omar, Troy Stevens, Botros Rizk, Kelly Roveda and Carol Motley -- presented white coats to the students at the ceremony.
USA medical student Mazen Omar said his father, Dr. Bassam Omar, has provided to him a true example of what a physician should be. “I feel like by being a part of the ceremony he is giving me a chance to follow in his footsteps and one day be an example to others, too,” Mazen said.
Mazen considered medicine as a career path in high school, and began volunteering at USA Medical Center. He chose to study medicine at USA due to small class sizes and the hands-on learning experience that USA offers. To him, putting on the white coat symbolizes responsibility that a physician has to his or her patients and to the community. “Wearing the white coat is a constant reminder of the responsibility of making sure your words and actions are credible because many people are depending on you and looking up to you,” he said.
Dr. Bassam Omar, professor of internal medicine at the USA College of Medicine and a cardiologist with USA Physicians Group, said, “the white coat is perceived as a symbol of authority and professionalism, and therefore, with wearing it comes immense responsibility and honesty as to live up to its expectations.”
“I am proud of Mazen and every student who received their white coat during this astounding event. I congratulate them and their families and friends on such an admirable achievement,” Dr. Omar said.
Trevor Stevens, son of Dr. Troy Stevens, director of the USA Center for Lung Biology and Lenoir Louise Locke Chair of Physiology and Cell Biology, has learned continuously from his father’s advice and perspective on life. Trevor said he believes that excelling in medical school is the best way to honor his father. “I always thought that there is no greater way to honor someone or to tell them you love them than to be the best you can be every day,” he said.
After realizing his passion for service to others and for the sciences at a young age, Trevor decided to pursue his medical degree at USA in order to stay close to his community of Spanish Fort, Ala. He is grateful for his peers in the Class of 2019. “While I am extremely grateful that my father is a part of the ceremony, I also hope the ceremony may be used as a way for all of us to show our families the impact they have had on our lives, and that it is only the beginning of a commitment to being the best we can be,” he said.
David Roveda said he enjoys the bond that he shares for serving in medicine with his mother, Dr. Kelly Roveda, assistant dean of medical education and student affairs and assistant professor of pathology at USA. The White Coat Ceremony is a reminder to him of why he chose to serve in medicine and the goals he hopes to achieve. “The white coat instills a level of confidence and trust from your patient that should be both humbling and an honor to wear each day,” he said.
David grew up witnessing his mother practice medicine, but did not become interested in a career in the field until he spent a summer working with a local cardiologist in his hometown of Mobile, Ala. He chose to attend the USA College of Medicine after touring the campus and meeting instructors and students. He feels that USA has instilled in him the responsibilities that come with wearing the white coat. “At the end of my first two years at USA, I feel not only excited but truly prepared to put on the white coat and begin working with patients,” he said.
During the ceremony, 76 students in unison took the Medical Student Oath, a promise to uphold the human aspects of medicine, such as sensitivity, compassion and respect for patients.
Select rising seniors from the class of 2018, as well as residents and faculty, were inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society at the ceremony. Inductees are selected for practicing patient-centered medical care with integrity, compassion and altruism. Election to this organization is by vote of medical students.
Each year, the USA Medical Alumni Association sponsors this event.
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