LUCOM’s newest class, 2023, receives symbolic white coat

Asa Keimig | LUCOM Marketing | Aug 20, 2019

LLiberty University College of Osteopathic Medicineiberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) honored their newest class, the Class of 2023, on Saturday, Aug. 17, during the annual White Coat Ceremony where Liberty’s osteopathic medical students received their symbolic white coat. The ceremony took place inside the Center for Music and the Worship Arts on the campus of Liberty University.

This was LUCOM’s sixth class to be coated, marking the beginning of a journey, an adventure, a challenge, and a life-changing endeavor from which the new class will emerge at the other side, as osteopathic physicians, forever changed. “The study and practice of medicine is a labor of love and we love each and every individual who joins us as part of the family of our College of Osteopathic Medicine,” said Peter A. Bell, DO, MBA, dean of LUCOM. “We believe that the body is designed by God to heal and seek health, and we engage in the efforts of healing and restoring the physical body of a patient to full function and health, while attending to the mind and spirit of that one who is in need.”

Liberty University College of Osteopathic MedicineDr. Bell noted that the ceremony not only recognizes Liberty’s newest class of osteopathic medical students, but also offers reflection on those who have supported and sacrificed for their loved ones as they begin this new chapter. “If you are a parent, grandparent, spouse, or otherwise attached to one of these students in the Class of 2023…we welcome you and commend you for your love and prayers and on-going support of your loved one who is entering one of the most difficult but rewarding careers in the world. Please, don’t allow your support to waiver, they will need your love and prayers in the days ahead,” he said. This was the third class of osteopathic medical students that Dean Bell has had the privilege of welcoming to LUCOM. “There is no doubt the Class of 2023 is accomplished, talented, and extremely well-educated,” he added.

Liberty University College of Osteopathic MedicineFor the Class of 2023, there are 150 students enrolled. By birthplace, there are 34 states and 19 foreign countries represented. Currently, 74% of the class are entering Liberty’s Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) program with a bachelor’s degree, and 25% with a master’s degree, while two students hold a Juris Doctorate (JD) degree. The top institutions of higher learning represented amongst the class are: Liberty University, Brigham Young University, Drexel University, Georgetown University, Rutgers University – The State University of New Jersey, Texas A&M University and the University of Virginia.

After Dr. Bell’s welcome, Chad K. Brands, MD, CPE, SFHM, senior associate dean of clinical affairs, brought the invocation followed by the singing of “God Bless America” by Amanda E. Troy, PhD, assistant professor of anatomical sciences, and Mrs. Teresa Henderson, director of site development for LUCOM’s Office of Clinical Rotations.

Liberty University College of Osteopathic MedicineThe White Coat Ceremony is a symbolic milestone for any class entering medical school and marks the beginning of a student’s transition into the medical profession. The short white coat symbolizes the academic journey and educational accomplishments that each have achieved to this point. “I firmly believe that the students of the Class of 2023 have succeeded thus far and are qualified to enter this field of osteopathic medicine,” said Dr. Bell. “A few weeks ago, they began this new phase in their journey. This White Coat Ceremony is the induction into a new focus, a new pursuit, a new passion, and a new life and calling. Receiving a white coat today in no way guarantees that the wearer will become a physician. This is only the beginning.”

Liberty University College of Osteopathic MedicineFollowing Dr. Bell’s remarks, each student-doctor from the Class of 2023 was able to walk across the stage where a LUCOM faculty member assisted in the donning of the new white coat. As they exited the stage, each student received three lapel pins. The first pin was the academic seal of Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine and the second pin a token provided by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. Special guest Jason Sneed, DO, attended the ceremony to give each student the third lapel pin containing the crest of the Virginia Osteopathic Medical Association (VOMA), a small gift to welcome each student-doctor into VOMA.

Liberty University College of Osteopathic MedicineThe keynote address was given by invited guest, Kevin Klauer, DO, JD, CEO of the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). Dr. Klauer represents the AOA’s professional family of more than 145,000 osteopathic physicians and medical students.

Dr. Klauer shared wisdom and knowledge that he hoped would be of value that the new class could take with them throughout their career. “I personally, and on behalf of the American Osteopathic Association, want to warmly welcome you into your new family. Not only have you, the Class of 2023, entered into the osteopathic profession, but you have entered into a very special family.”

Dr. Klauer addressed obstacles that LUCOM’s newest class will face, similar to ones that he has faced throughout his career. “Something that comes to mind beyond this day and even before this day in trying to land this position, was ‘what if I can’t do it?’ Well you can do it, or you wouldn’t be here. You met the rigorous standards of this prestigious of this institution. You can do this, and you can be an osteopathic physician.”

“What I’ve learned throughout my career is that you will have obstacles, you will have self-doubt, but you must overcome the obstacles and dismiss the doubt. I truly believe the greatest limitations you will face in your career you will impose upon yourself. If you don’t believe in yourself, you limit what you can do as an individual, but also an osteopathic physician,” he added.

Dr. Klauer spoke on the future of Osteopathy, “The future of our profession is with our students and I personally, along with the AOA, are committed to making sure we work with you to build the profession and the AOA in the future, so that that when you are ready to take it all in…it will be exactly what you expected. The three domains we want to focus on is getting the best undergraduate medical education, the single accreditation system, and board certification within the AOA because we want to make sure it works for you.”

Liberty University College of Osteopathic MedicineFollowing the keynote, Michael D. Lockwood, DO, FCA, professor of osteopathic manipulative medicine (OMM), led the class in the reciting of the Osteopathic Oath where students affirmed their loyalty to the osteopathic profession mindful of their responsibility to preserve the health and well-being of their patients.

Gary L. Patton, PhD, assistant dean of admissions and student services, closed the ceremony in prayer. “We do not always have to close our eyes when we pray. Sometimes, we actually should not close our eyes when we pray. Often, we need to pray with our eyes open. You are going to face critical situations when there will be no time to close your eyes to pray. You will have to quickly and quietly seek God’s help and strength as you do what must be done. You are in a time and place where you are being taught to look and to see. So, I invite you to receive this blessing with your eyes wide open.”

At the conclusion of the ceremony, student-doctors and invited guests visited the Center for Medical and Health Sciences for tours and a light reception.

View images from the White Coat Ceremony at