CPHS celebrates 8th graduating class of PA students

The Campbell University PA Program celebrated a tremendous milestone for the Class of 2020 by hosting a virtual Long White Coat Ceremony for 52 program graduates in the midst of COVID-19 gathering restrictions.

The long white coat ceremony marks the transition from PA student to clinician. Chair and Director of the Physician Assistant Program Betty Lynne W. Johnson began the virtual ceremony by greeting family, friends, faculty and honored guests. She shared that the ceremony of commissioning and blessing each of these graduates “symbolically embraces the profession by being coated with a long white coat.”

Many faculty and university administrators shared heartfelt well-wishes and thanks to the graduates for their tireless efforts. Chancellor Jerry Wallace was unwavering in his belief that the last three months of education would be historic and change so much about the practice of medicine. “It will change your lives,” Wallace said. Wallace reminded graduates that the ‘why’ of Campbell University is to graduate students who would serve the world and bring glory and honor to Jesus Christ.

Dr. Wesley Rich, associate dean for Health Sciences and associate professor for the Public Health program, applauded graduates for continuing to face unknowns in a time of uncertainty. Laura Gerstner, director of Clinical Education for the PA program, reminisced on the fact that this class had energized her, bonded together and carried each other like none before. Gerstner encouraged graduates by sharing words from Dr. Steve Maraboli, “life doesn’t get easier or more forgiving; we get stronger and more resilient.”

Special music played while viewers watched recordings of friends and family coating the graduates. Graduates then took the professional oath of a physician assistant. The class president, Morgan Dailey (’20 MPAP/MSPH), recognized the hard work, teamwork, and endless encouragement of her classmates. She individually thanked all 52 of her peers for their acts of kindness, willingness to lend a helping hand, and general positivity. 

The Physician Assistant Program at Campbell University focuses on a patient-centered, clinically practical, evidence-based curriculum. The 2020 graduates have been equipped to enter one of the fastest growing health care professions with the education, integrity, and experience needed to serve their patients well.