BUIES CREEK, North Carolina – The Campbell University Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine presented the Class of 2020 with their white coats today at the annual ceremony held in Buies Creek in front of a crowd of family and friends from across the country.
After the invocation by second year medical student Hamilton Vernon, president of the Campbell Christian Medical and Dental Associations chapter, Dr. John M. Kauffman, Jr., dean of the medical school, opened the ceremony with a moment of silence for those affected by Hurricane Matthew.
The White Coat Address was presented by Karen J. Nichols, DO, MA, MACOI, CS. Dr. Nichols is presently the Dean of the Midwestern University/Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and served as President of the American Osteopathic Association 2010-2011. She has received numerous awards including the first Arizona Osteopathic Medical Association Physician of the Year Award, Physician of the Year Award from the Illinois Osteopathic Medical Society (twice) and the J.O. Watson named Lectureship from the Ohio Osteopathic Association. She was selected for the highest honor given by the American Osteopathic Association, the 2015 Distinguished Service Award.
As she addressed the Class of 2020, Dr. Nichols gave them two tests – one on current events and one regarding who they called when the hurricane hit, who were the three people who had the most impact on their decision to go to medical school, and other poignant moments in life.
“On which test did you have an answer for all of the questions?” asked Dr. Nichols. “The second test – those were people who care about you and you care about them and that’s the point. Francis Peabody said ‘the secret to taking care of the patient is caring for the patient.”
Dr. Nichols gave two examples from her own career and a comment from political commentator Daniel Shore to demonstrate three elements of caring to the students: communication, empathy and sincerity.
“Studies have shown patients will make a decision about you in 18 seconds,” said Dr. Nichols. “The way you are going to convince them that you are qualified is by demonstrating how much you care for them.”
“You have made a great choice by coming to this school of osteopathic medicine,” concluded Dr. Nichols. “The kinds of virtues that I just discussed are well modeled in your entire team at this university.”
After the students were individually presented with their white coats by their academic advisors, the Class was lead in taking the Osteopathic Oath by associate deans Drs. King-Thiele and Tolentino.
Students, friends, family, faculty, and staff enjoyed a reception at Leon Levine Hall of Medical Sciences to conclude the day’s celebration.