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D.P.T. Class of 2025 Honored at White Coat Ceremony, Prepares for Clinical Education

The Event Confirmed Their Commitment to the Profession of Physical Therapy and Future Patients

April 24, 2023
D.P.T. Class of 2025 White Coat recipients with faculty and SHSP leadership
D.P.T. Class of 2025 White Coat recipients with D.P.T. faculty and SHSP leadership

The Medical Education Center lobby was abuzz with excitement and joy before the ceremony kicked off as the group gathered for photos and conversation with their white coats in hand before processing in.

Janet P. Dolot, M.S., D.P.T., Dr.P.H. ’14, PT, OCS, interim chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, introduced Rabbi Baruch Fogel, M.A., of Touro University, for the invocation before offering encouraging sentiments to the students. “The white coat symbolizes clinical knowledge, professionalism and responsibility,” said Dr. Dolot. 

Edward C. Halperin, M.D., M.A., chancellor and chief executive officer, then addressed the students, joining the ceremony via Zoom to extend words of wisdom. Dr. Halperin provided insight into the “third person in the room” students can expect to encounter when examining a patient in the future. This person, visible or not, influences what happens between a doctor and patient, and it is important to remain cognizant of outside entities that affect that relationship. He concluded his message by embracing the students as members of the white coat community. “I’m happy to welcome you to that body of women and men in white coats, stretching backward and forward in time, who have committed themselves to the relief of pain, the amelioration of suffering and to helping people avoid, to the extent possible, premature death. I wish you all Godspeed on this next part of life’s journey.”

The future physical therapists also heard from Robert W. Amler, M.D., M.B.A., dean of the SHSP and vice president for government affairs. He reassured the students that they are pursuing a doctoral degree for the right reasons. “You not only can make a difference; you not only will make a difference, but in fact, you have committed to make whatever differences possible."

Ben F. Johnson, Ed.D., vice dean of the SHSP, followed with light-hearted comments about the progress the students have made so far. “Congratulations. You have survived anatomy. You have survived physiology. You survived exercise science. You survived neuroscience. It’s all downhill from here,” said Dr. Johnson, garnering laughs from the audience.

From there, it was time for D.P.T. faculty members to address the students, beginning with Scott Rivera, D.P.T., P.T., OCS, assistant professor of physical therapy. Dr. Rivera stressed three attributes for success the students should adopt as they move into clinical studies and beyond resilience, embracing ignorance and gratitude.

This year’s alumni speaker was Nicholas Sheehan, D.P.T. ’16, P.T., assistant professor of physical therapy. Dr. Sheehan provided his perspective on the evolution that occurs when shifting from coursework to clinical studies. “All of your hard work is no longer just for you. It is for the patients you will be treating. In our profession, we meet people in their darkest times, and you will be there not only as their physical therapist but as a major foundation to their support system.” He said it is now up to the students to uphold the high professional and clinical standards required in the field of physical therapy. Dr. Sheehan then shared the knowledge he has gained since earning his white coat from NYMC, including valuing education, setting goals, searching for passion and reflecting on the reason for pursuing a career in physical therapy.

Students were then called to the front of the auditorium to don their white coats with assistance from D.P.T. faculty members. Proudly wearing their new coats, the students then recited the Pledge for Physical Therapy from the American Physical Therapy Association Education Section 2004.

Peter Calicchia, D.P.T. Class of 2025, is eager to begin the next chapter of his educational endeavors. “I’m very excited to reach my potential. I've put in the work in school, and I am confident it will show during clinical rotations."

Wearing the white coat for the first time was a special moment for Maria Verderosa, D.P.T. Class of 2025, and served as a reminder of why she wanted to pursue the degree in the first place. “It keeps me motivated to keep going,” said Verderosa.