Nursing school hosts White Coat Ceremony for physician assistant, nurse practitioner students.
The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing at UC Davis conducted a White Coat Ceremony on Monday to celebrate the formal transition from classroom education to clinical preparation for physician assistant and nurse practitioner Class of 2015 students.
More than 100 family and friends filled the Robert T. Matsui Lecture Hall at UC Davis Health System’s Education Building to cheer on the six nurse practitioner and 21 physician assistant students as they were presented their first white coats.
Similar to the white coat tradition at many medical programs, the ceremony signifies the completion of the academic year of study and the move to clinical education, where students complete rotations in primary care, inpatient medicine, rural medicine, pediatrics, surgery and other areas. During this time, students experience their first patient interactions.
“In keeping with the concept that medicine, and health care in general, are team sports, this tradition has expanded to a variety of other health professions such as pharmacy, optometry, therapy, veterinary, physician assistant and advanced practice nursing, and is now celebrated internationally,” said Debra Bakerjian, senior director for the nurse practitioner and physician assistant programs.
The event included comments and advice from two program alumni — Karimeh Borghei, a 2006 nurse practitioner graduate and Jeremy Weis, a 2012 graduate of the physician assistant program — as well as a current physician assistant student, Kim Ward, and other faculty.
The UC Davis physician assistant and nurse practitioner programs are the only ones in the nation where the two professions learn together in the classroom. Additionally, the UC Davis programs focus on developing providers to deliver care in areas where it’s needed most, thus expanding access for a growing population. The UC Davis School of Medicine’s Department of Community and Family Medicine first offered a nurse practitioner graduate certificate program in 1970. The physician assistant program was added in 1982.
In 2013, the program was reconfigured into master’s degree programs at the UC Davis nursing school. Over the past 40 years, UC Davis has graduated more than 1,800 nurse practitioners and physician assistants, with 67 percent of graduates working in underserved areas. Additionally, nearly 70 percent of graduates work in primary care, compared to significantly lower national averages of between 30 and 40 percent.