White Coat Ceremony to Welcome New Class of PA Students

January 11, 2017

The number of students in the Master of Science in Physician Assistant program at Mary Baldwin University doubled this semester as a new cohort of PA students began classes January 4 at the Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences.

A White Coat Ceremony will be held Saturday to welcome the second cohort of PA students at Mary Baldwin University’s Murphy Deming College of Health Sciences in Fishersville, Va. (Photo from 2016 ceremony by Norm Shafer).

More than 700 students applied for 40 students in the class of 2019. Forty-eight percent of incoming students are from Virginia.

A white coat ceremony, marking the beginning of the students’ medical journey, will be held at 1 p.m. on January 14 at Murphy Deming. Mary Mannix, FACHE and CEO of Augusta Health, will be the guest speaker.

The white coats the students will receive symbolize their commitment to become PAs, who balance excellence in medical practice, a strong commitment to service, and compassionate patient care. It is the first time the students will recite the PA Professional Oath.

The white coat ceremony was originally designed to welcome new medical students into the medical profession. Hundreds of colleges and universities involved in the education and training of medical professions, including the physician assistant, have since adopted the ritual.

PAs are in heavy demand. Three quarters of PAs receive multiple job offers upon passing their initial licensing and certification exams, according to the American Academy of PAs. The demand for PAs increased more than 300 percent from 2011 to 2014, according to the healthcare search firm Merritt Hawkins. As of January 2016, there were more than 108,000 certified PAs nationwide who interact with patients upwards of 350 million times each year.

The inaugural class of PA students, who began their studies a year ago, will begin rotations in May and will graduate in May 2018.

The new Murphy Deming campus in Fishersville opened in June 2014 and plans to graduate its first cohorts of occupational therapists, physical therapists, and nurses with bachelor’s degrees this May.


Editor’s note: Should inclement weather cause the event to be cancelled, this information will be posted Saturday morning on go.marybaldwin.edu. Please note that if the ceremony is cancelled, it will not be rescheduled. Students will be presented their white coats in a private ceremony the following week.