Lebanon, Ore. - 08/05/2014 --
Tomorrow's osteopathic physicians will encounter a host of distractions on their journey to improving health care, but must stay focused so that they become the health care leaders their communities expect and need.
That was the message on Saturday, August 2, 2014, from Oregon State Rep. Sherrie Sprenger as she gave the keynote address at the fourth Convocation and White Coat Ceremony for the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific - Northwest. COMP-Northwest is the Oregon campus of the Pomona, Calif.-based College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific (COMP), one of nine colleges comprising Western University of Health Sciences.
The fourth class of entering students - 105 in all -- means COMP-Northwest has reached full enrollment, at just over 400 students. The campus' inaugural class, which entered in 2011, will graduate in June 2015.
"You will face distractions. The only way I know how to overcome distractions is with laser-like focus," Sprenger said. "Know without hesitation why you wanted to be a physician. Know what role you want to play in your community.
"Those of us in the community look up to you. We need you to lead us."
The Class of 2018 also heard from Al Turner, DO, who gave the white coat address, which followed the Convocation proceedings. During the white coat ceremony, and with the help of a faculty member, each incoming student dons a white coat representing their entry into the health professions.
Turner said that, on its face, a white coat doesn't mean much. "The meat cutters at Costco wear white coats. So does Chef Boyardee. So does the pope," he said. "But a white coat doesn't make you a meat cutter or a chef. And it sure doesn't make you the pope."
How the person who wears the coat treats other people and the osteopathic profession is what matters, Turner said. "Osteopathic medicine is an entirely different way of looking at health and disease. Finding health is exciting, challenging, difficult, and takes a lot of courage... If you are going to find health, it will require looking at your patients with a new set of eyes.
"The white coat marks the beginning. It signals the start of your journey as healers. Take care of it. Keep it clean. Wear it with pride, for it is an honor to be asked to become part of the osteopathic profession."
First-year COMP-Northwest student Jody Gordon said donning the white coat feels like validation of a long and often rocky road that brought him and many others to this juncture.
New students said they felt welcomed when they interviewed at COMP-Northwest, and that the campus is family oriented.
"You could tell that everybody, the professors and students and everyone, really believed in the place and were really supportive," said first-year COMP-Northwest student Matthew McGowan.
Portland resident Kusum Mehndiratta came to Convocation to celebrate her son, Vineet, as he starts his osteopathic medical career. Her daughter, Rika, is a second-year COMP-Northwest student. Rika attended Gonzaga University, so she wanted to study medicine at a smaller school with close interaction with her professors, Mehndiratta said.
"This was a good choice for her," Mehndiratta said. "She's been very happy with her year. She probably influenced her brother, hearing good things about the school.
"I didn't think when they were young that both would be doctors. It's great. I'm very happy for them. It's exciting. It's a good profession. It's really a noble profession."
COMP-Northwest students and their families participated in several activities as part of Welcome Week, including an ice cream social with WesternU President Philip Pumerantz, PhD, and a parents' welcome event.
Friday's events ended with the annual Crystal and Cheers, which brings together COMP-Northwest supporters and faculty, staff and administrators. COMP-Northwest presented three 2014 Crystal and Cheers Awards to supporters who embody and demonstrate compassion and skills to shape the health care leaders of the future. Jim and Heather McDaniel received the Significant Impact Award. Charles Kaluza, DO, received the Excellence in Education Award. John Stiger, DO, was named COMP-Northwest Outstanding Ambassador.