D.P.T. Class of 2022 Celebrates White Coat Ceremony
Milestone marks the transition to clinical education
Physically distanced, yet bonded together as a class rising to the challenge of learning during a pandemic, 44 members of the Doctor of Physical Therapy (D.P.T.) Class of 2022 donned their white coats for the first time in a ceremony on November 16. The milestone event, witnessed by families and friends online, marks their entrance into the clinical years of their education and the affirmation of their commitment to the profession of physical therapy and future patients. The ceremony was postponed from the spring when their clinical rotations were scheduled to begin but were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The D.P.T. Class of 2022 is now scheduled to start their clinical work in January and are eager and primed for the next step in their education.
After an invocation by Rabbi Moshe D. Krupka, M.S., executive vice president of the Touro College and University System, Michael J. Majsak, P.T., Ed.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Physical Therapy in the School of Health Sciences and Practice (SHSP), offered greetings and shared the history of white coats in the health care professions and the tradition of the White Coat Ceremony which symbolizes professionalism, humanism and trust. “It is the notion of others putting their lives in our hands,” said Dr. Majsak. “It is a time of reflection on the obligation our students are taking to serve others and to uphold the noble charges of the profession of physical therapy.”
Edward C. Halperin, M.D., M.A., chancellor and chief executive officer, addressed the D.P.T. Class of 2022 imparting three points of advice to the class: 1) tell the truth 2) beware of the third party in the room and 3) balance justice with mercy. Robert W. Amler, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the SHSP, Benjamin F. Johnson, Ed.D., vice dean of the SHSP, and Catherine L. Curtis, P.T., Ed.D., assistant professor of physical therapy, also addressed the students. Dr. Curtis commended the class on their resiliency during the pandemic. “When your clinical rotations were canceled this summer, you treated the paper cases as real people and dove right in to solve their problems,” she said. “We as a faculty could not have asked for more.”
Brittney Delpesche, P.T., D.P.T. ’16, senior physical therapist and site coordinator for clinical education at The Children’s Learning Center and treasurer of the New York Chapter of the National Association of Black Physical Therapists which she helped start in 2020, gave the traditional alumna address. She shared her experience as a physical therapist during the pandemic, suddenly and unexpectedly going from treating patients in person to treating them via a 13-inch screen. “In a way, you are all very lucky,” she told the students. “The field of physical therapy has literally changed in front of you. Because you are all starting out, you can start to think critically now about how to address your patients’ functional goals, both in person and virtually.”
Dr. Delpesche offered advice to the students as well including 1) do not be afraid to be wrong 2) take constructive criticism and seek feedback 3) begin with the end in mind 4) put first things first and 5) challenge yourself to treat each treatment session as if it were your last 30 minutes with that patient. She also expressed how honored she was to speak at the ceremony since she was part of the group of students who first proposed a physical therapy White Coat Ceremony at New York Medical College in 2013 when she was a first-year student.
“Above all else, strive to be the therapist who makes a difference, no matter how small,” she concluded. “Be the therapist who, despite all odds—whether it is limited visits, a broken treadmill or spotty wi-fi—leaves your patients in a better position than when they started.”
Next members of the D.P.T. Class of 2022 approached the stage to don their white coats with the help of their physical therapy professional development advisors.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Susan L. Ronan, P.T., D.P.T., PCS, assistant professor of physical therapy, administered the Pledge for Physical Therapy from the American Physical Therapy Association Education Section 2004, a pledge the D.P.T. Class of 2022 will reaffirm two years from now at commencement.