July 29, 2023 : By Ryan Klinker - Office of Communications & Public Engagement
Marking its 10th incoming class of student-doctors, the Liberty University College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM) recognized the 166 members of the Class of 2027 at its annual White Coat Ceremony on Saturday morning.
The ceremony, held at many schools across the country, is a symbolic gathering for new students as they begin their journey through medical school.
Following opening remarks by Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Scott Hicks, Dean Joseph R. Johnson, DO, FACOOG (Dist) shared a series of encouraging words for his newest students.
“Each of you has dreamed, worked, and sacrificed, and you have waited many years to be here,” he said. “Every single one of you deserves to be here, and your loved ones, along with our faculty staff, are here cheering you on. On behalf of myself and the faculty and staff, we firmly believe in your class, and what I want to see is every single one of you walking across the graduation stage four years from now. We are extremely invested in your education and in Training Champions for Christ.”
Johnson said the journey through medical school will not be easy and that the many late-night study sessions, challenging exams, homesickness, and other struggles are not to be feared. Citing Proverbs 3:5-6, a passage he said his mother used to share with him while he was in school, Johnson told the newcomers to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”
LUCOM is a distinctively Christian institution, Johnson said, and he emphasized the hope that the students will grow during their medical education both in their knowledge of God’s design of the human body and their relationship with Christ.
“You have chosen a path of remarkable sciences and humbling servitude. You cannot be a physician without taking on the attributes of Jesus Christ, who is the greatest physician,” Johnson said. “We are unapologetic in the position that we take, in the way we will teach you. We will challenge you in medicine; we will also challenge you in your walk with Christ. By the time you get out of this program, I hope that we have developed in you a closer relationship with our Lord and Savior.”
As is tradition at LUCOM’s ceremony, 14 students were separately coated on stage by family members who are practicing or retired medical professionals carrying a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) or Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree, recognizing the families’ histories in the medical field.
“It’s so special to be here, and the white coat is really just a symbol of what we’re about to embark on together,” said first-year medical student Austin Murphy from Chattanooga, Tenn. “I’ve already met a lot of great people, and I’m excited to go through this with them and become who we’re meant to be.”
“It definitely feels surreal,” said fellow student-doctor Yana Vasilov of Brooklyn, N.Y. “It’s been a long road to get here, and I feel like when I get the white coat today I’ll feel like it’s really happening and that I’ll get to start living my dream every day while I’m here.”
LUCOM’s Class of 2027 represents 30 states and 8 includes 8 international students. The top five states are Virginia, California, Pennsylvania, New York, and North Carolina. The class has 16 students who received degrees from Liberty University. Additional top academic institutions represented among the new class are Cornell University, Pennsylvania State University, University of Florida, University of Virginia, and four different University of California schools.
Instituted by The Arnold P. Gold Foundation in 1993, a White Coat Ceremony is celebrated at almost all medical schools in the United States, as well as in 19 other countries. As an international nonprofit organization, the foundation works with physicians in training and in practice, as well as other members of the healthcare community, to instill a culture of respect, dignity, and compassion for patients and practitioners.