The journey to becoming an optometrist at New England College of Optometry, NECO, includes a large course load of optometric education, hours practicing clinical techniques, and clinical work with patients that increases in scope and practice throughout a student’s four years. One milestone in this journey to increased clinical responsibility is the distribution of white coats and letters granting clinical privileges at the Annual White Coat Ceremony. This year, families, friends, faculty, and staff joined the Class of 2020 as they received their white doctor coats and celebrated at the George Sherman Union at Boston University on September 24, 2017.
Barbara McGinley, MA, Associate Dean of students introduced the speakers and welcomed the group, recognizing that they are the envy of the profession as the Class of 2020! President Clifford Scott, OD ’68, MPH, Interim Dean Sandra Mohr, MS, MA, EdD, Professor Bina Patel, OD, and Linda Bennett, OD ’80, each addressed the group, marking the milestone with advice and wisdom. Professors Maureen Hanley, OD ‘81 and Daniel Bastian, OD ’12 distributed the white coats while Jim Mertz, OD, PhD presented the privileging letters.
Dr. Bina Patel, OD, congratulated the students, noting, “The white coat ceremony really does symbolize the transition of your career to being part of the clinical team.” She encouraged students to consider what the transition really means. “As you accept the white coat today, you are really pledging your commitment to patients, and in doing so you are putting yourself in front of your patients. To do so well, you need to be compassionate, you need to be excellent in the services you deliver, you need to have integrity and honesty, you have to put the interests of the patients before your own, you have to respect and value the fellow health professionals that you’ll be working with, and you have to have tolerance to the situations you’re dealing with.” She acknowledged that students would face both successes and challenges, explaining, “Nothing comes easy and you have work to do. But you are here for a journey, and we’re here to make it successful for you.”
President Clifford Scott acknowledged the importance of celebrating this milestone with family and friends and encouraged the OD2 students to stand and recognize their families. He described the growing responsibility that accompanies their new clinical placement. “The white coat is a recognition of what you have achieved and your new responsibilities with increased patient care,” he explained. “People will now perceive you differently when you enter the room wearing your white coat. There’s an expectation that you know what you are doing and that you are going to perform at the highest level of professionalism.”
Alumni Association President Linda Bennett offered her congratulations to the future alumni. She recognized breadth of knowledge and skills the students had learned in only one year. She encouraged them to continue to utilize the language of optometry as practitioners. She also reminded the Class of 2020 to communicate well with their patients, being thoughtful about the particular language and words they choose, helping patients understand what eye health issues they might be facing and what steps they can take to combat them. “While you’re taking on the responsibility of detecting disease in people’s eyes,” she said, “it’s also about helping people to see well and preserve their vision.”
Interim Dean Sandra Mohr congratulated the group on their hard work mastering concepts and practicing techniques in pre-clinic during their first year as they prepared to work in a clinical setting. “The next few years are going to require continued hard work and dedication towards reaching your goals.” She encouraged the Class of 2020 to listen to patients and colleagues each day. “Listening is an essential skill to help you integrate what you have learned into patient practices.” Members of the Class of 2020 and their families enjoyed a reception immediately following the ceremony and group photo.
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About New England College of Optometry
New England College of Optometry, NECO, is an independent graduate college of optometry that educates students for careers in eye care delivery, research and education. For over 120 years, the New England College of Optometry has been educating optometrists and leaders in the field. Originally founded in 1894 as the Klein School of Optics, NECO prepares the next generation of eye care providers, educators, leaders, and innovators through a rigorous curriculum and extensive clinical experiences. NECO is accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE) of the American Optometric Association (a member of the Council of Post-Secondary Accreditation) and the New England Association of Schools & Colleges, Inc. (NEASC).
Media Contact: Ingrid Hoogendoorn, Director of Communications