At Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury, N.Y., on March 27, 308 students from NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine (NYITCOM) earned their distinguished white coats, signifying their transition into clinical practice following their first two years of medical school.
The ceremony also featured a keynote address by Regina Olasin (D.O. '82), chief medical officer at Care for the Homeless—which provides shelter services, advocacy for affordable housing, and health services for New York City’s homeless population—and the oath of commitment issued by NYITCOM Dean Wolfgang Gilliar, D.O., to the newly adorned student doctors after faculty and alumni helped them don their white coats for the first time.
The evening began with an a cappella rendition of the “Star Spangled Banner” from third-year student Brendan Beecher, followed by welcoming remarks by Gilliar.
“This ceremony today marks both an end and a beginning,” he told students, families, and guests in attendance. “The white coat will serve you as a guide but it will also protect you. It is a symbol of your trust, competence, and confidence. Carry it with passion.”
Following Gilliar, NYIT Vice President for Medical Affairs and Global Health Jerry Balentine, D.O., issued a challenge to the Class of 2019—to embrace change.
“Medicine is a profession that does not like change and usually fights change,” he said. “Change is good. It moves us forward, it lets our patients teach us, and makes us better doctors.”
Regina Olasin (D.O. ’82) presenting the keynote address.
Balentine also urged them to keep an open mind and welcome opportunities to learn from other professions. “You can grow as a physician based on feedback from your patients and colleagues,” he added.
Architect Peter Romano (B.Arch. ’76), who serves as vice president of the NYIT Board of Trustees and chair of the NYIT Development Committee, told the Class of 2019 that the board applauds “your tireless efforts to achieve the highest set of professional ethics and standards in patient care as part of your lifelong, personal commitment to medicine.”
NYIT Interim President Rahmat Shoureshi, Ph.D., reiterated Balentine’s appeal to find ways of working with different professions and disciplines. He cited NYIT’s interdisciplinary research between NYITCOM faculty and colleagues across its many schools and colleges in the fields of cardiovascular science, nanoparticles, and sensor technology, among others. “We all draw strength from each other in the NYIT community,” he said.
Shoureshi recalled his own observations as a father who watched his two children earn their white coats in medical school. “You’ll face further challenges and obstacles, but there will also be far more opportunities to use your education in ways you may not have realized,” he said. “You’ll carry with you a great commitment and the responsibility to make an impact on the health of patients.”
In her keynote address, Olasin stressed how humanistic, person-centered patient care is essential to elevating the care that doctors provide.
“Osteopathic medicine and holistic practice fully embrace the complete individuals, their disease and ability, joy and sorrow, strengths and weaknesses,” she said. “As you move into clinical practice, your life experience will have an impact upon how you change, grow, and mature as you share the life experiences of your patients.”
Every physician, Olasin added, is exposed to the hearts, minds, and lives of those they treat. “You will touch lives, and your patients and their families will touch you,” she said.