Class of 2026 Start Their Journey into Clinic

Students from the Class of 2026 receive their White Coats and are ready to start clinic in the fall.

On Sunday, August 20, all 128 members of the Class of 2026 gathered with friends, families, and peers to receive their White Coat before the fall semester begins.

The White Coat ceremony is a momentous occasion that signifies the successful completion of the first year of optometry school at NECO where students not only earn a White Coat, but also a letter of clinical privilege and are able to pursue clinical placements in only a few weeks time.

The ceremony began with NECO President and CEO Dr. Howard Purcell greeting the Class and the rest of the audience with words of excitement and advice for the students’ next chapter. “Strive to be the best you can be, and strive to always care–I promise you, patients can tell…” shared Dr. Purcell.

Wearing a White Coat symbolizes professionalism, caring, and trust which medical professionals must earn from their patients. Students selected two faculty members to speak during the ceremony, Dr.s Jennifer Riley, Assistant Professor of Optometry and George Asimelis Professor of Vision Science. They each shared their enthusiasm for and faith in the Class of 2026, reminding them just how prepared they are and to, “Not throw away your PPO notes…YET,” advised Dr. Riley. “There is certain foundational knowledge that will make more sense…in the clinic.”

She finished with a reminder about what this ceremony and their education is all about. “Remember, at the end of the day, we are training you not just to take care of eyes, but to take care of people,” Dr. Riley shares.

Following Dr. Riley was Dr. Asimelis who spoke to the students about their time in Optics and how exciting this next phase will be for them. “You earned this! You have the knowledge, the skills, and the passion to make a difference in the lives of others,” he remarked. “Remember, that the White Coat is signifying your commitment to the profession of optometry and the patients you will serve.”

Before the students were called on stage, Dr.s Amy Roan Moy and Timothy Bossie shared the Duty of Care that the students will now follow upon receiving their White Coat. Dr. Bossie recalled the ongoing theme that their White Coat represents serving the whole person and taking this responsibility seriously. “Part of our duty as optometrists is to look at the whole patient and their overall well-being,” he shares. “You are part of the bigger picture of keeping this patient healthy both physically and emotionally.”

Dr. Moy echoes this notion of patient-centered care, “Respect the rights and dignity of your patients and their health care decisions. Our patients are individuals who have diverse and unique needs. One management plan does not fit all.” These and other elements to such Duties of Care were laid out in an effort to prepare the students for entering the clinical space.

As Dr. Erik Weissberg took over the microphone, he began to call up each student from the Class of 2026 to receive their Coat and their Clinical Privileging letter. Cheers and applause echoed throughout the space on Commonwealth avenue as each student made their way across the stage. Students smiled and excitedly stood for photos with Dr. Purcell before making their way off stage. The Class of 2026 is now prepared to start their next journey of Optometry school as they eagerly await their clinical assignments in two weeks when the fall semester begins. The entire college applauds this Class on their dedication and inquisitive nature as they make their way from the classroom to the exam room in an effort to change the way people see the world.