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Arnold School of Public Health

  • White Coat Ceremony

Doctor of Physical Therapy program hosts first white coat ceremony

July 11, 2022 | Erin Bluvas,

Students pursuing their Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degrees in the Department of Exercise Science participated in the program’s first white coat ceremony this summer. Members of the 2023 and 2024 cohorts listened to speakers, received their white coats and swore an oath to do their best as members of the physical therapy profession.

DPT program director Shana Harrington presided over the ceremony, which was organized by students Brie Quade, Kailyn Horn and Will Jones. Harrington provided a history of white coat ceremonies, which were created to stress the importance of humanism and professionalism as well as the need for balance between excellence in science and compassion in providing patient care.

“In physical therapy, this ceremony is often seen as a rite of passage,” Harrington said in her opening remarks. “Here at UofSC, this new tradition signifies students’ entrance into the medical profession as they embark on their first clinical experiences when the fun really begins. The white coat is a symbol of professionalism, responsibility, compassion, respect and clinical knowledge. White coats are about how you as the student practitioner present yourself to the world – it is really a symbol of clinical service. Let your white coat serve as a symbol of humility and being open to learning and growth.”

Harrington was followed by speakers from each of the cohorts: Kailyn Horn (2023) and Carter Venancio (2024). Edward Collier, a two-time alumnus of the Arnold School (B.S. in Exercise Science, 2008; DPT, 2011) and Director of Therapy Operations at Encompass Health, was the honored speaker for the event. 

After receiving their coats, the DPT students recited the oath and enjoyed refreshments and photographs. Each student received a hand-written note from one of the DPT faculty members and a UofSC lapel.

“I hope your coat will remind you of the special place you have in the lives of your patients and their families. By accepting and wearing your white coat, you show your dedication to healthcare and the physical therapy profession,” Harrington said in her closing remarks. “As we close this ceremony and you begin your clinical experiences, do not be afraid to fail or make mistakes and learn from them and remember ‘never stop learning because life never stops teaching.’”

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