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VCOM-Louisiana Hosts First Osteopathic White Coat Ceremony in State History

VCOM Louisiana White Coat Ceremony for the class of 2024
By Desiree Hammett -

VCOM-Louisiana, the newest branch of The Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, located on the campus of the University of Louisiana Monroe (ULM), held their inaugural White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2024 on Saturday, April 10, 2021. This celebration was the very first osteopathic white coat ceremony to be held in the state of Louisiana.

Ed Williams, PhD, Executive Director of LOMA

A major goal of the Louisiana Osteopathic Medical Association (LOMA) was to solve the long-standing healthcare shortages and disparities in the expansive and underserved rural regions of the state. An obvious prerequisite to achieving that goal was the establishment of a college of osteopathic medicine in Louisiana. Opening the doors of the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2020 met that need. The White Coat Ceremony at VCOM-Louisiana for the Inaugural Class of 2024 thus represents a landmark achievement of LOMA to meet the needs of Louisiana’s osteopathic profession and its public.

Ed Williams, PhD , Executive Director of LOMA

The ceremony, which was held at ULM’s Fant-Ewing Coliseum, is a “rite of passage” for beginning medical students that encourages a psychological contract for professionalism and empathy in the practice of medicine. The white coat ceremony is held at more than 100 medical schools nationwide and emphasizes the importance of both scientific excellence and compassionate care for patients.

Ray L. Morrison, DO, FACOS, Dean of the VCOM-Louisiana campus

“The white coat ceremony allows students to identify themselves as crossing the threshold with a significant visual statement of their commitment to medicine. In this ceremony, our students identify this commitment to their peers, to their faculty, to their family and friends, and to all honored guests in attendance,” said Ray L. Morrison, DO, FACOS, Dean of the VCOM-Louisiana campus. “They recite the osteopathic oath, a statement that identifies a professional, personal, ethical and moral commitment to this chosen profession which they are to enter.”

Ray L. Morrison, DO, FACOS , Dean of the VCOM-Louisiana Campus

VCOM-Louisiana’s inaugural class, consisting of 149 medical students, were ceremoniously coated by VCOM-Louisiana faculty and, in some cases, the students’ immediate family members. Those individuals coating the students were required to be licensed physicians with a DO or MD degree. Following the coating, the students, along with all DOs in attendance, recited the Osteopathic Oath.

Speakers at the ceremony included John G. Rocovich Jr., JD, LLM, Chairman of the VCOM Board of Directors; Dixie Tooke-Rawlins, DO, President and Provost of VCOM; Ed Williams, PhD, Executive Director of the Louisiana Osteopathic Medical Association; Ray L. Morrison, Dean of the VCOM-Louisiana campus; Stephanie Lazo, Class President for the VCOM-Louisiana Class of 2024; and Nathan Kinnard, MEd, Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Development for the VCOM-Louisiana campus.

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