Mayor Karen Bass was the keynote speaker (CDU)

Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass delivered the keynote address on Friday, Dec. 15, at the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science 2023 Long White Coat Ceremony. Approximately250 friends and family members packed the Keck Building Lawn under warm, sunny skies to witness the 24 Physician Assistant Program graduates receive the distinct honor

“The Long White Coat is conferred on new students at the very beginning of medical school,” stated CDU President, Dr. David M. Carlisle in his opening remarks.

“It is a symbol of professionalism and the weight of the heavy responsibility entrusted upon a future physician. It also symbolizes caring and trust, which you must earn from your patients,” he said.

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The White Coat Ceremony is a ritual in some schools of medicine and other health-related fields that marks the student‘s transition from their formal education and beginning of their professional careers in clinical health sciences. Over 100 medical schools in the U.S. have a WCC, and many students now consider it a rite of passage in the journey toward a healthcare career.

Mayor Bass, a Charles Drew PA program alumna, aligned with the new graduates’ readiness to serve their communities.

“I understand your desire to just get on with it — to get out there and share your knowledge and skills with your patients. But please take the time to learn about the communities where you practice, as this will improve your ability to serve your patients, especially to deepen your understanding of the context in which your patients live,” she said in her keynote address.

CDU President/CEO Dr. David M. Carlisle (CDU)

“The power of your voice in sharing the stories of your patients with policymakers has the power to alter decisions made at every level of government — in Washington, DC, Sacramento, and locally at the Board of Supervisors, or City Council. I’m hoping that you will not be silent to allow policymakers, with no background in health, to make health-related decisions,” said the city’s Chief Executive.

CDU Medical Director Dr. David Martins was tasked with presenting graduates with awards of achievements in areas of discipline, dedication to service, perseverance, and embodiment of the spirit of the university — most notably for most service hours logged, professionalism, and respect, and excellence in academics.

Drew alumna Professor Stephanie Bowlin noted she was the first in her family to attend college and graduate.  She spoke on the noble calling of medicine as a privilege to uphold.

“The very fabric of the white coat represents the deep fabric of your craft, the relationship between yourselves and your future patients, the art of community, leadership, excellence, diversity, integrity, and compassion. You’ve chosen to be part of one of the coolest professions there is,” she noted.

Then, one by one, the 24 Physician Assistant Program graduates were adorned with their long white coats by friends, family members, and loved ones — followed by the solemn reciting of the Hippocratic Oath; the earliest expression of medical ethics in the Western world taken by new physicians.

Located in South L.A., Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science is a Historically Black Graduate Institution (HBGI), a charter Hispanic-Serving Health Professions Schools member, a member of the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and leader in the State’s effort to diversify the healthcare workforce.


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