Physician Assistant Class of 2023 Dons White Coats

By Ben Boulden

But for the Class of 2023 in the UAMS Department of Physician Studies, the month and the department’s white coat ceremony May 28 marked the formal beginning of the next phase of their academic lives.

During the virtual white coat ceremony, live images streamed via Zoom onto a screen in the Fred W. Smith Auditorium at UAMS as faculty watched. The video images were of friends and family at different locations helping students put on their white coats.

Edward Williams

Edward Williams speaks from the Smith Auditorium at UAMS during the white coat ceremony. A few faculty members attended in person while students participated from other locations via Zoom.Image by Evan Lewis

“It’s sad not to have family and friends here in the auditorium to watch the students come across the stage,” said Edward Williams, MPAS, M.Ed., PA-C, chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies, “The flip side of that, what is so gratifying, is seeing the smiles of all of the friends, classmates and family members. It was really heartfelt. We aren’t together in one place, but we are together in the care and compassion we have for you as a class.”

Gloria Richard-Davis, M.D., MBA, said the white coat is a symbol of professionalism, caring, honesty and trust. Richard-Davis is the program’s medical director.

“Think about this every day when you slip that white coat on, what the coat means and the responsibility that you have assumed. However, the pay offs are very rewarding,” said UAMS College of Health Professions Dean Susan Long, Ed.D.. The Department of Physician Studies is in the College of Health Professions.

Although the Class of 2023 is just the eighth class of students to begin the program, health care has undergone some significant transformations since the first class, said UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D., MBA.

Gloria Richard-Davis

Gloria Richard-Davis introduces UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson before he addresses the audience using a pre-recorded video.Image by Evan Lewis

“You are entering a field that is much needed in Arkansas,” the chancellor said in a video statement. “We created the program to fill a need for improving access to care in Arkansas by expanding our ability to produce health care professionals to see and treat patients. In this time of dramatic changes in health care, the Physician Assistant Program is critical in achieving our mission of improving health and health care for Arkansas and beyond.”

Director of research and assessment in the Department of Physician Assistant Studies, Tiffany Huitt, Ph.D., read off the names of each of the 40 students as each one put on their coats. The students receiving their white coats were:

  • Sydney Bass
  • Caitlyn Bell
  • Jordan Bone
  • Carol Bowerman
  • Hannah Brantley
  • Damiesha Bryant
  • Paige Buffington
  • Caroline Burns
  • Rupak Chowdhury
  • Holley Coker
  • David Crowley
  • Skylar Davis
  • Emily Dickerson
  • Grace Duggan
  • Emalee Farris
  • Christy Grihalva
  • Rachel Hamilton
  • Amanda Horton
  • Spencer Hughes
  • Grace Jones
  • Heather Jones
  • Joshua Kennebrew
  • Madison Lee
  • Stephanie Martin
  • Ruth Mejia
  • Faith Melton
  • Bethany Miller
  • Tara Pitts
  • Madalynn Potter
  • Nicholas Russenberger
  • Alexia Sebghati
  • Kasey Stewart
  • Bria Thomas
  • Ryan Toliver
  • Irene Tran
  • Mary White
  • Marshall Witt
  • Elizabeth Wohlford
  • Isabella Wood
  • Emily Youngblood