KYCOM’s class of 2024 receives ‘white coat of compassion’

The University of Pikeville-Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (KYCOM) formally welcomed the Class of 2024 during a Virtual White Coat Ceremony on Saturday, October 10, at 10 a.m. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the ceremony was prerecorded and available for students, friends and family to view and celebrate this milestone for these future physicians.

White coat ceremonies are rites of passage for beginning medical students, welcoming them to the profession and reinforcing the value of humanism as a foundation to medicine. The ceremony encourages a psychological contract for professionalism and empathy in the practice of medicine. Medical students are bound by the same professional commitments that bind all physicians.

“We conduct this ceremony at KYCOM to mark the transition and commitment the members of this class are making from laypeople to assuming the responsibility of student doctor,” said Dana Shaffer, D.O., FACOFP, dist., FAOGME, dean of KYCOM. “You must accept and embrace the mantle of professionalism bestowed upon you.”

This year’s keynote address was delivered by Chief Executive Officer of Pikeville Medical Center (PMC) Donovan Blackburn. Blackburn is the former manager of the City of Pikeville and has been in his role as CEO of PMC, a regional referral center for other medical facilities and the region’s largest employer, for nearly three years.  

Blackburn’s message focused on how the landscape of the healthcare industry has changed in the wake of COVID-19 and how new physicians must rise to the challenges ahead with all the qualities their patients should expect from them.

“You are entering into medicine in a time like no other. With this pandemic, the health inequities of this country, and the significance of the occupation ahead of you, healthcare needs you now more than ever. You have chosen to embark on a professional career with challenges unlike generations of physicians before you,” said Blackburn. “Fill your coat with more than just the spread of your shoulders. Fill it with honesty, truth, compassion and heart.”