Staff, faculty, friends, and family gathered at the University of South Florida School
of Music to officially welcome the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine Physician
Assistant Program Class of 2025 during their Commitment to the Profession Ceremony.
Todd Wills, MD, assistant dean and program director of the program kicked off the event by welcoming the guests, thanking sponsors and donors, and recognizing special guests in the audience including Charles J. Lockwood, MD, MHCM, executive vice president of USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine.
Dr. Wills further explained the significance of the ceremony. It’s more than just receiving a white coat, he said. It’s an important day when the educators recognize the commitment the students have already made and the commitment they are expected to carry forward after becoming physician assistants.
“It’s not just a commitment to a profession. It’s a commitment to a culture of respect for patients and to the medical field,” Dr. Wills said in his opening remarks.
Dr. Lockwood took the stage following Dr. Wills’ opening remarks. His message to the students served as a reminder of the responsibility that comes with receiving a white coat and the important role they will play in health care teams.
“The white coat you receive today is a great privilege but carries great responsibilities,” Dr. Lockwood said in his address to the students. “It signifies your obligation to put the needs of your patients at the center of all that you do. You are pursuing one of the fastest growing careers in medicine and you will be on the front lines of patient care. You’ll play ever-increasing, indispensable roles as integral members of the health care team.”
Dr. Wills delivered the keynote address to the group. His address further explained
the impact of a white coat.
“It’s going to be a signal to the community that you’re a health care provider. It’s going to be a signal to your patients that you’re ready to provide compassionate care.”
He left the group with four key messages to ensure positive patient outcomes.
- Listen and learn about their patient
- Think about what the patient story means to the patient
- Understand what the patient has been through to get to where they are
- Give the patient answers, or give them a commitment to finding answers for them
“When you wear this coat, you’re not just wearing it for yourself. You’re wearing it for a lot of other people,” he concluded.
Following Dr. Wills’ keynote remarks, the event transitioned into the most exciting portion of the ceremony. Small groups of students were called to center stage to have their white coats presented to them by their faculty educators.
With fresh white coats over their shoulders, Larry Collins, MPAS, PA-C, ATC, associate professor and associate director of the PA Program, led the students in The Physician Assistant Oath, officially marking the transition from college graduate to physician assistant student.
The class of 2025 is the program’s seventh cohort of students, and represents the most academically accomplished group of students in the program’s young history, with an average overall GPA of 3.85 and science GPA of 3.82, both of which are above the national average for PA students.
The USF Health program currently ranks 65th out 210 ranked programs by the U.S. News & World Report. This was the first year the program was eligible for ranking.