Second year OD students receive their white coats and transition to more extensive patient care
Members of the Class of 2018, were joined by their families and NECO staff for the annual White Coat ceremony at the Colonnade Hotel on Sunday, September 20, 2015. Each year, the New England College of Optometry marks the transition into increased clinical responsibility with the presentation of White Coats. Dean of Academic Affairs Barry Fisch noted that NECO had started the tradition in 2000. “Today,” he explained, “almost every health care profession has created something similar to this ceremony.”
At the New England College of Optometry, student are called upon almost immediately to begin working with patients through school screenings in their first year. This ceremony marks a transformation of students to more formal patient care providers. As Dean of Student Services Barbara McGinley welcomed the group, she noted, “Today’s ceremony is our way of recognizing the knowledge and skills that students have gained since they came to the College one year ago.”
The White Coat ceremony was sponsored by our corporate sponsors, Alcon, Allergan, and Hoya, as well as the NECO Alumni Association. Speakers at the event included President Clifford Scott, Dr. Gary Chu, Dr. Lynn Brandes, and Dr. Barry Fisch. All discussed the responsibility associated with the transition to increased patient care and the importance of the patient and their needs in patient care.
President Scott explained, “When you show up at your placements in your white coat, there is an expectation that you will provide quality care to your patients. You are now identified as a healthcare professional and your patients, supervisor and the health care system have new expectations of you. But never forget about the patient. You have both a moral duty to care about your patient and a legal duty to care for your patient.”
“This white coat distinguishes you when you walk into an examination room,” noted Dean Fisch. “It is a symbol of your accomplishments. But it must never become a barrier between you and your patients. It is something truly special. Let your patients know that they are foremost in all your actions and words, and their needs and interests are your priorities. Patients are entrusting to you their care, and they expect to be treated with truthfulness, respect, empathy, compassion, and humility.”
Dr. Gary Chu, Senior Director of Public Health and Community Collaborations agreed, stating, “You will be working in different settings, caring for different populations, and in different communities. But always remember that there is a patient sitting in the chair and think about what you can do to help them get the care they need.”
“As you progress through the next few years, ask questions of the instructors as you progress through your clinical experience,” shared Dr. Lynn Brandes, Vice President of the Alumni Association. “But remember that compassion and care towards our patients is just as important as perfecting technical skills.”
Students were urged to be active proponents in their work but also in their education. President Scott explained that students were learning their craft now as they started to see diverse patients and complex cases that would prepare them for future success. Dean Fisch urged students to “make sure you dedicate yourself to being the most knowledgeable and skillful doctor you can be with the highest professional and humanistic qualities you can have.” Dr. Chu encouraged students to interact with other health care providers and to ask questions of their preceptors and colleagues. “We’re training you not just to be optometrists, but we’re training you to be health care providers,” he explained.
White coats were distributed this year by NECO faculty Dr. Nancy Coletta and Dr. Maureen Hanley. In addition, students received an official letter documenting their achievements from Dr. Jonathon Jimmerson. They will present this letter to NECO’s clinical affiliates as they begin their clinical placements through the New England Eye network.