Physician Assistant program celebrates White Coat Ceremony; welcomes association president

The School of Medicine presented white coats to 20 physician assistant students during the annual White Coat Ceremony on April 14.

As they prepare to begin the next stage of training, 20 physician assistant students at the UMKC School of Medicine participated in the program’s fourth White Coat Ceremony on April 14. It took place at the UMKC Student Union.

Students receive their white coats as they begin their fifth semester of the seven-semester program. The ceremony signifies their transition from the classroom to the clinical phase of training.

Beverly Graves, M.D., clinical assistant professor, who served as the program’s first medical director, and Kathie Ervie, M.P.A.S., P.A.-C., program director, led the presentation of the white coats.

The day before the White Coat ceremony, students from all three years of PA program heard remarks from Gail Curtis, president of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. Curtis visited the School of Medicine while in Kansas City to take part in a Kansas Academy of Physician Assistants meeting.

She told the UMKC students that this is a good time to be joining the physician assistant profession.

“We have so many great opportunities right now for our profession,” Curtis said. “You’re very lucky to be getting into the profession at the time you going into it.”

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the physician assistant profession. It is ranked third on the U.S. News and World Report’s list of  2018 Best Jobs.

“One thing that I think is good about where we are right now is that we’ve accomplished a lot in those first 50 years,” Curtis said. “We’ve gone from one program in North Carolina to having almost 235 PA programs, and more are coming every day.”

She also applauded the UMKC program that welcomed its inaugural class in January of 2014.

“You’re still a baby program,” Curtis said. “But I hear you have a 100-percent pass rate on your board exams. So, you’re also a great program.”

The School of Medicine currently has about 60 students enrolled in the physician assistant program. Its first two graduating classes have produced 34 physician assistants.