Marist Welcomes Inaugural Physician Assistant Class with Traditional White Coat Ceremony

Marist College

45-student cohort launches College's two-year Master of Science program housed in new Science & Allied Health Building 

POUGHKEEPSIE (June 9, 2016) – The 45 members of Marist's inaugural Physician Assistant Program cohort gathered in the Nelly Goletti Theatre recently to participate in the White Coat Ceremony that marked the start of their journey toward the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies and launch the College's newest graduate degree, a significant step in the development of its Science and Allied Health programs.

An image of Program Director Kathleen Lill It is a diverse and accomplished group of students who, one by one, donned the short white coats that they will wear throughout the two-year program. As Program Directror Kathleen S. Lill, MS, PA-C, explained, the white coat symbolizes medicine's historic transition from an era of magic and superstition to the science-based practice that began to prevail in the mid-19th century. But these coats are practical as well as symbolic. "These coats have large pockets, which you will fill with reflex hammers, stethoscopes, flashlights, and other instruments," Lill explained.  "They will be stuffed with notes, books, flash cards, and other paraphernalia. They will also get smudged with coffee and ink stains."

President Dennis Murray welcomed the students and told them their service as health care providers will help fulfill Marist's commitment to serving others. "We are truly glad that you're part of our community," President Murray said, " and we're really excited about this new program and your presence here."

"You are a unique, diverse group of very talented individuals," said the program's Medical Director Stephen A. Katz, M.D. Many new PA students have professional experience in the health care field. More than 36 percent are people of color, and 60 percent come from outside New York State. They range in age from 22 to 55.  

After receiving their coats, the group assembled to take the Physician Assistant Professional Oath, which begins with the pledge to "hold as my primary responsibility the health, safety, welfare and dignity of all human beings."

An image of Yoohyun Kim receiving his white coat from PA Program Director Kathleen Lill More on the White Coat Ceremony 

The Latin name for white is candidusCandidus is also the root of the word candor, which means truth.  Truth stands at the core of the Physician Assistant profession.  The white coat has become the symbol of truth and trust in the patient/care-giver relationship.  The first White Coat Ceremony was held at the University of Chicago’s Medical School in 1989.  Four years later, Dr. Arnold Gold, of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, formalized and structured the occasion.  It is his vision and version of the ceremony that is emulated throughout this nation and across the world by all medical disciplines.  Dr. Gold believed that students should be given well-defined guidelines regarding obligations and responsibilities at the beginning of their training.  And, he believed that students should declare their commitment to their profession at the same time.

For more information on Marist's Physician Assistant Program, please visit

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