September 27, 2016 On Sunday, September 25, 2016, 106 students from the Class of 2019 were on hand at the Colonnade Hotel in Boston to receive their white coats at New England College of Optometry’s annual White Coat Ceremony. Surrounded by family, faculty, and staff, the group was honored for their academic and clinical work to date. They were also charged with accepting their growing responsibility for patient care as they were presented their white coats and letters granting them clinical privileges.
Barbara McGinley, MA, Associate Dean of Students, welcomed the group on behalf of President Clifford Scott, OD ’68, MPH. “The White Coat ceremony is a formal, public recognition of the didactic and clinical skills our students have attained,” she explained. “It is also a look forward to the symbolism of the white coat and the students’ growing responsibilities to their patients.”
At many optometry schools around the country, the first year class is given a white coat as they are welcomed into the community and begin their studies. At New England College of Optometry (NECO), however, white coats are distributed at the beginning of the second year. After a full year of study and clinical training, the white coats recognize the transition to increased clinical responsibility given to second year students. As patient care providers, the Class of 2019 can now wear their white coats at their clinical placements in health centers, eye clinics, hospitals and other settings.
The White Coat ceremony was sponsored by corporate sponsor, Alcon, as well as the NECO Alumni Association. Speakers at the event included Drs. Robert DiMartino, Tony Cavallerano, Daniel Bastian, and Linda Bennett.
“The white coat is not just a piece of clothing, but also a symbol,” noted Dan Bastian, OD ’12, Assistant Professor of Optometry, delivering the opening remarks. “It’s an outward sign of the standards you are expected to uphold and a community to whom you now belong. You are now an important collaborator in the health care world.”
He went on to explain, “Along with this white coat, you assume the responsibilities of being an eye care professional, which are to demonstrate skill, good judgment and politeness. You have been trained to do your job well and proven it over the course of your first year. You have demonstrated intelligence, excellence, honor and integrity to your faculty and now you must show it to your patients. What makes up a professional is not asked of you, but expected!“
Tony Cavallerano, OD ’72, Director of Professional Relations and Executive Director of Clinical Training and Patient Care congratulated the group and encouraged them to put themselves in the place of a provider as they accepted their new role and responsibility. He encouraged them to enjoy the journey of optometry, rather than focusing on the destination. “You will now impact people across the spectrum of the population,” he said. “The doctors you will work with offer the quality of care to their patients and the highest quality of education to you. Be active as you do your training - be a critical thinker, ask questions, and always learn.”
Linda Bennett, OD ’80, President of the Alumni Association welcomed them as future alumni. “I consider you OD minus 3, because in three years, you will become my colleagues, join this wonderful profession, and become part of our alumni network,” she told the group. “Remember only one year ago when you first entered NECO, you didn’t know very much about optometry. Over the course of one year, you learned to speak optometry and you’ll continue to learn and perfect this language over the next three years. But don’t forget to speak English, especially as you start to speak with your patients who have not learned this language of optometry!”
Dr. Robert DiMartino, OD, MS, Vice President and Dean of Academic Affairs presented the Recognition of Students, as well as the closing remarks. He discussed the impact of this mile marker on their path towards becoming professionals, noting, “You will change as a person because you have accepted this white coat, and in doing so, you have chosen to put other people’s needs over your own.” He shared stories of his own experiences, encouraging them to step outside of their comfort zone and to be prepared for challenging, humorous, and unique situations. “Patients are now coming to you for help,” he said. “You must treat them respectfully without passing judgment.”
White coats were distributed this year by NECO faculty Drs. Nancy Coletta and Maureen Hanley. In addition, students received an official letter documenting their achievements from Dr. Dan Bastian. The Class of 2019 and their families enjoyed a reception immediately following the ceremony.
About New England College of Optometry
New England College of Optometry is an independent graduate college of optometry that educates students for careers in eye care delivery, research and education. NECO was founded in 1894 as the Klein School of Optics, and is the oldest continuously operating school of optometry in the United States. NECO prepares the next generation of eye care providers, educators, leaders, and innovators through a rigorous curriculum and extensive clinical experiences. Through a vast network of clinical affiliations, our students put patient care first, providing vision care to children, older adults, the homeless, and individuals with disabilities through our mobile eye clinic, satellite clinics in schools, homeless shelters, community health centers, and VA medical centers.
Media Contact: Ingrid Hoogendoorn, Director of Communications