Newest LECOM Students Take Part in Annual White Coat ceremony

The newest classes of pharmacy and osteopathic medicine students at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) took an important and symbolic step in their careers when they received their white coats during ceremonies held at Erie’s Warner Theatre.

One hundred forty-three members of the Doctor of Pharmacy Class of 2016 and 263 members of the Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine Class of 2017 participated in White Coat ceremonies. The students 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 coats represent integrity and professionalism for the students, who made the Pledge of Professionalism (pharmacy) and the Osteopathic Pledge of Commitment (medicine). The osteopathic medicine students also received their stethoscopes.

Two LECOM alumni who had participated in the White Coat ceremony themselves as students gave the keynote addresses.

Abbey Powers, Pharm.D., assistant professor of pharmacy at LECOM and a 2010 graduate of LECOM’s School of Pharmacy, spoke to the pharmacy students. She explained how the white coat embodies honor, responsibility, professional commitment, and, perhaps most importantly, a sense of trust.

Abbey Powers, Pharm.D., a LECOM graduate and current faculty member in the School of Pharmacy, addressed the Pharmacy Class of 2017 at its White Coat ceremony.

“Trust is a term you will hear quite frequently today and throughout your careers because trust is instilled in us as pharmacists,” Dr. Powers said.Our patients have a tremendous amount of trust that we, as healthcare professionals, will deliver the very best care for them. This trust includes our colleagues and other healthcare professionals.

“I guarantee that one day, you will speak with a patient and they will tell you how much they trust you and appreciate you,” Dr. Powers continued. “They will remind you of the significance of the white coat you are receiving today. Keep in mind this is a very pivotal moment in your careers.”

Melissa Millewich, D.O., an emergency physician with Mercy Hospital & Medical Center in Chicago and a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Medicine, spoke to the osteopathic medicine students. Dr. Millewich is a 2007 Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine graduate of LECOM.

She also touched upon the significance of the white coat. “Just as your white coat symbolizes your accomplishments, it is also a profoundly meaningful symbol for your patients,” Dr. Millewich said. “The white coat symbolizes hope, inspires confidence, represents professionalism and can even ease the worries of those who look upon you. Patients are looking to you for help, for relief of their pain, for comfort, for answers. They are often sick, sometimes critically so, and your coat is the beacon that tells them they are in the presence of someone who will help them. In time you will know the joy of fulfilling these expectations for many patients.”

Though the White Coat ceremony was a joyous occasion, Dr. Millewich also cautioned the students that, as physicians, they will experience trying times. “You will be tested. Your stamina and your physical and emotional strength will be tested,” she said.

Melissa Millewich, D.O., a LECOM graduate and an emergency physician in Chicago, addressed the Osteopathic Medicine Class of 2017 at its White Coat ceremony.

“Although this unique career has many rewards, it takes a lot in return. Medicine is challenging.”

Christopher D. Olson, D.O., President of the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association, also addressed the osteopathic medicine students. The stethoscope will be an important tool for the students as they become doctors, but he also encouraged them to use their hands and their ears in treating patients. “Listen to your patients,” he advised.

Like Dr. Millewich, Dr. Olson also discussed the rigors of medicine. He encouraged the students to maintain their enthusiasm and their idealism, even when they feel worn down.

LECOM faculty members Rachel R. Ogden, Pharm.D., Mary E. Ray, Pharm.D., and Brian Simpkins, Pharm.D., cloaked the pharmacy students. Hershey Bell, M.D., Dean of the LECOM School of Pharmacy, led the students in the Pledge of Professionalism.

Robert E. Evans, D.O., Jan Hendryx, D.O., Mark K. Kauffman, D.O., Richard A. Ortoski, D.O., and Regan Shabloski, D.O., cloaked the osteopathic medicine students. Silvia Ferretti, D.O., Provost, Senior Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs at LECOM, led the students in the Osteopathic Pledge of Commitment.

Dr. Millewich was interviewed by WPSE AM-1450. Listen to her interview here. In addition, she and several students discussed the White Coat ceremony.


The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine offers innovative and affordable education in osteopathic medicinedentistry and pharmacy. From campuses in Erie, Pennsylvania, Greensburg, 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?

September 23, 2013
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