Unique White Coat Ceremony Kicks Off Careers for Physician Assistant Trainees at Franklin College
Campus News

The Franklin College Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies Program hosted its White Coat Ceremony on Friday, Dec. 18, 2020. The college’s cohort of 24 PA students from the class of 2022 received their white coats and recited a medical oath during a unique Zoom ceremony, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Family members enjoyed the honor of presenting the students with their white coats.

The ceremony is a rite of passage welcoming students into healthcare practice by providing a white coat symbolizing professionalism and humanistic patient care. At Franklin College, it marks the transition from the didactic year to the clinical year and the beginning of clinical rotations. It is the halfway mark of the 25-month, full-time program.

The ceremony is the second for Franklin College and is significant for the master’s degree program as it has grown from 18 students in its first cohort to 24 students this year. The third cohort of PA students will begin their studies in January 2021.

Thomas Meehan, Ph.D., PA-C, founding program director and assistant professor of physician assistant studies, provided the welcome and opening remarks for the ceremony.

“Through the uncertainty of the pandemic, students were able to take what is already a stressful situation and persevere,” said Meehan. “This is what medicine is all about and although difficult to live through, students will be better able to handle adversity going forward.”

Franklin College President Kerry N. Prather also addressed the students. “You were chosen for the Franklin College PA program from a competitive field of applicants because you are not only intelligent and hardworking, but also dedicated to providing compassionate, patient-centered care,” said Prather. “You have demonstrated flexibility and vigilance as learners and leaders throughout these ever-changing circumstances. We are proud of you.”

Franklin College received Accreditation-Provisional for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS) program in the fall of 2018 and enrolled its first cohort in January 2019.

The college’s MSPAS program is a 25-month course of study. Graduates are eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) and become licensed as a physician assistant in any state. 

The Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies is made possible by a nearly $1 million grant awarded to the college in 2014 from the Lilly Endowment, as part of its Initiative to Promote Opportunities Through Educational Collaborations. It is the second master’s program launched by the college.

The ARC-PA has granted Accreditation-Provisional status to the Franklin College Physician Assistant Program sponsored by Franklin College.

Accreditation-Provisional is an accreditation status granted when the plans and resource allocation, if fully implemented as planned, of a proposed program that has not yet enrolled students appear to demonstrate the program’s ability to meet the ARC-PA Standards or when a program holding Accreditation-Provisional status appears to demonstrate continued progress in complying with the Standards as it prepares for the graduation of the first class (cohort) of students.

Accreditation-Provisional does not ensure any subsequent accreditation status. It is limited to no more than five years from matriculation of the first class.

While two of the students in this year’s cohort are graduates of Franklin College, the program draws interest from across the country. This cohort included students from New Hampshire to Oregon. The program also draws interest of professionals who decide later in life to pursue a medical degree, such as the group’s class president, Michelle (Dickey) Bartlett.

“I have always been interested in the medical field,” said Bartlett, who has worked as a special needs teacher for the last nine years. “I always heard the parents of my students remark that most medical professionals have a hard time understanding their children. I decided to pursue a degree to become a physician assistant for this reason. I hope to work with families and children with special needs.”  

In her address to fellow classmates at the ceremony, Bartlett urged them to “keep pushing themselves beyond what they think they can handle because uncertainty is the essence of life, and it fuels opportunity. This year, 2020, sure was an uncertain and difficult time in our lives, but we pushed on and persevered through all of the chaos.”  

Students receiving their white coats include:

Madeline Atkinson of Indianapolis.

Michelle (Dickey) Bartlett, daughter of Jack and Dee Dickey of Fishers. She resides in Broad Ripple with her spouse, Ryan Bartlett.

Chaz Casey, son of Sean and Karyn Casey of Macob, Mich.

Mallory Cast, daughter of Robert Cast and Wendy Cast, both of Lebanon. Cast is a 2019 graduate of Franklin College.

Tyler Cichowski, son of Tom and Lori Cichowski of Reese, Mich.

Sierra Corbin, daughter of Robert and Kristene Corbin of Granger. She resides in Indianapolis.

Mercedes Cox of Fairland.

Josiah Dick, son of Phillip and Jeanie Dick of Sherwood, Ore.

Rebecca (Jolly) Greiner, daughter of Jim and Kathleen Jolly of Merrimack, N.H. She resides in Indianapolis with her spouse, Anthony Greiner.

Stephanie Hautsch, daughter of Steve and Bobbie Hautsch of Jasper.

Kaleb Johnson, son of Matthew Johnson of Auburn. and Tina Kuehnert of Grabill.

Katelyn (Bowman) Lacy, daughter of Robert and Stacey Bowman of Greenfield.

Cassidy Mull, daughter of Craig and Connie Mull of Henryville.

Mohamad Nazari of Woodbridge, Va.

Mackenzie (Norder) Willman of Greenwood.

Rachel Payne, daughter of Tim and Cindy Payne of Oxford.

Andrea Salemi of Houston, Texas.

Elizabeth Severns, daughter of Tim and Trish Severns of Kokomo.

Lexi Short, daughter of Tom and Kristi Short of Avon. Short is a 2019 graduate of Franklin College.

Brittany Spaulding of Carmel.

Jacob Stemper of Bargersville.

Emma Stout of Jasper, daughter of Andy and Susan Stout of Huntingburg and Angie Stout of Holland.

Quentin Tingle, son of Wayne and Kim Tingle of Madison.

Brittny Vandevander, daughter of Brandy Vandevander of Brownsburg and Harold Vandevander of Avon.

For more information, contact the Franklin College Office of Communications at (317) 738-8185.

POSTED Dec 21, 2020