The white coat has intrinsic values. It bears a physician assistant’s name, so they’ll never lose it in a sea of hospital white; it provides warmth in the chill of clinical hallways; it has pockets for stethoscopes, reflex hammers — even bars of chocolate, said Bryant University Physician Assistant (PA) Program Medical Director Earl Jackman, D.O., at the PA White Coat Ceremony on November 9. But its intrinsic value, Jackman told his 46 students and their family members, is the most significant of all.
“It’s your suit of armor,” he said. “Always, always remember that to whom much is given, much is expected. You’ll interact with patients many times at their lowest, but they deserve your very best.”
Following remarks by Jackman and Provost and Chief Academic Officer Rupendra Paliwal, Ph.D. — who told the group that, as PAs from Bryant, “you will not only serve the profession; you will actually lead” — the PA class of 2025 shrugged on their white coats with assistance from Director of Didactic Education and Professor Stephanie Potts, PA-C, and Director of Clinical Education and Professor Danielle Cormier, PA-C, who also led the group through the PA student pledge. Father Joseph Pescatello delivered the invocation and benediction, and PA Program Interim Director Matthew Lavoie, PA-C, delivered closing remarks.
The ceremony celebrated the students’ transition from the classroom to the exam room; beginning next term, they will earn credit hours for clinical rotations in the community, from the Rhode Island Free Clinic to the American Samoa.
As they embark on the next chapter of their medical education journey, meet a few of the faces of Bryant’s PA Class of 2025:
At age four, Jsane King knew she wanted a career in the medical field. The North Carolina native recalls her early days were spent practicing putting on Band-Aids and using a stethoscope. King, who was inspired by her mom, a nurse, started inquiring about different healthcare industry professions at age 16.
King graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with her Psychology degree and, for the past five years, worked as a certified nursing assistant — spending most of her time in geriatrics. Realizing she wanted to become a PA, King found her way to Bryant.
While King says there’s a bit of imposter syndrome that comes with having her white coat, she’s excited to immerse herself in different specialties and gain more confidence through experience. She loves that she can educate patients on their medical choices, so they are empowered to make decisions that are best for them.
“I want to make an impact on other people’s lives. My white coat symbolizes that I belong, that I am here, and that I will do what I set out to on day one,” says King.
PA may stand for physician assistant but, according to Tyler Christley, it could just as easily stand for personality assistant.
“We are the first front-line faces for a lot of these patients,” says Christley, who obtained his undergraduate degree in Biology from the University of Northern Colorado. “I really like people, so I’m excited to get back out in the world; nothing beats hands-on experience.”
Hailing from Colorado, Christley knew he wanted to go into healthcare but wasn’t sure what he wanted to do. That all changed when a group of PAs he worked with through being an EMT suggested he apply to PA school.
As someone who’s always wanted to live in the smallest state, Christley discovered Bryant and — after his on-campus interview — was excited to enter the program. When he’s not in class or studying, Christley plays on Bryant’s intramural soccer league and gets together with “the gym crew,” a group of PA students who get together every morning and work out before classes.
Hailing from the Ocean State, Allyson Desrosiers applied to the University of Notre Dame as an English major. Her career trajectory changed, however, when she landed in the hospital and was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Desrosiers spent one week in the hospital and, while she was there, formed great relationships with her healthcare providers. Upon leaving, she felt she could make an impact in the healthcare system and graduated from Notre Dame with a double major in Pre-Health and Spanish.
Leading up to PA school, Desrosiers spent time as a phlebotomist, EMT, and medical scribe. Today, she is the president of the PA Class of 2025 and puts on once-a month wellness activity for her peers — recalling recent activities such as yoga, trips to Roger Williams Park Zoo’s Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular, and visits to the local drive-in theater.
While Desrosiers is proud to receive her white coat, she’s more particularly ecstatic for her classmates.
“We’ve been through a lot together, and this is a cool opportunity to go through this process with 40 plus people,” says Desrosiers, who will spend her first 10-week clinical rotation in American Samoa, a U.S. territory in the Pacific Ocean.