LECOM at Seton Hill Med Students Receive White Coats
LECOM alumna Nicole Temofonte, DO, gives keynote address

More than 100 students at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (LECOM) campus at Seton Hill University in Greensburg received their white coats during a ceremony held at the Seton Hill Performing Arts Center.

The members of the Class of 2017 are approaching the completion of their first semester, and are preparing to make the transition from pre-clinical education to more clinical, hands-on training. The white coat is a symbol of integrity and professionalism, and the ceremony is an opportunity for the students to reaffirm their commitment to osteopathic medicine and for LECOM to reaffirm its commitment to the students’ education and training as Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine.

White Coat ceremonies first were held at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1993. Today, they have become a tradition and an important rite of passage for medical students.

Irv Freeman, Ph.D., J.D., Vice President for LECOM at Seton Hill; Nicole Temofonte, D.O., the ceremony's keynote speaker; Michael Zawisza, D.O., Vice President of the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association (POMA); and Silvia Ferretti, D.O., Provost, Senior Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs at LECOM.

In addition to receiving their white coats, the students also made the Osteopathic Pledge of Commitment during the ceremony.

Nicole Temofonte, D.O., a member of LECOM’s Class of 2001, gave the keynote address. Dr. Temofonte completed a residency in internal medicine at Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh and later an endocrinology fellowship at the University of South Florida. She is board certified in internal medicine, endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism. In 2012, Dr. Temofonte became a member of the faculty at LECOM’s campus at Seton Hill.

During her remarks, she recalled her own White Coat ceremony, in 1997, and told the students that while medicine offers many rewards, it also has its share of challenging times.

“I can tell you that you will feel more joy and more sorrow than you can imagine,” she said. “I can tell you that you will feel a sense of accomplishment. I can tell you that you will be humbled. You will never forget the first baby you deliver. You will never forget your first night on-call alone. You will never forget the first patient who thanks you. Likewise, you will never forget the first patient who curses at you.

“The white coat does distinguish you,” she added. “But remember, always remember, why it does and live up to the expectation (of patients). While you should be proud of all your accomplishments and successes, remember why you got into medicine in the first place. The one constant is that your patients will need you.”

Michael Zawisza, D.O., Vice President of the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association (POMA), also addressed the students. “Today you are starting your career,” Dr. Zawisza said. “There is an old saying that even the longest journey begins with a first step. You now have taken the first step as an osteopathic physician. Where your journey takes you will be the experience of your lifetime.

“You all will make our profession strong. Good luck and keep taking those steps,” he concluded.


The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine offers innovative and affordable education in osteopathic medicinedentistry and pharmacy. From campuses in Erie, PennsylvaniaGreensburg, Pennsylvania and Bradenton, Florida, LECOM believes that when mind, body and spirit  come together the impossible becomes suddenly possible. It is a calling each and every one of our students embodies to become the best they can be. To prevent disease and treat it. To give hope. Can you hear the calling?

October 12, 2013
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