Second-year students in the Physician Associate (PA) program helped their 37 first-year colleagues in the Class of 2009 don the white coats that symbolize the medical profession on the afternoon of March 20. Medical students have long participated in this tradition, but it is only the second time that Yale PA students have joined in the ritual. And unlike their medical colleagues, they celebrated not the beginning of their training, but a different milestone. The donning of the white coat in the Medical Historical Library marked the transition from learning in the classroom to learning on the wards from real patients.

“We wanted to incorporate into a ceremony the idea of trying to instill in the students the ethical responsibility of being health care providers and the reverence with which they should practice,” said Mary L. Warner, M.M.Sc., PA-C, director of the PA program.

“The White Coat ceremony is a rite of passage, serving as a reminder of your need to balance excellence in the medical sciences with demonstrated compassionate care,” said keynote speaker Cynthia B. Lord, PA ’91, director of the Quinnipiac University PA program and president-elect of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. “The white coat should never be a symbol of status, hierarchy or power.”