Physician Assistants Celebrate Triumph in the Midst of Uncertainty

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The GW SMHS physician assistant (PA) Class of 2022, following years of exams and studying, long hours in front of computers, and isolation and distance learning, reunited on Saturday morning, May 14, for a seminal event: trading their short white coats for long white ones.



“The change for you today from the short white coat to the long white coat is a symbol of your achievement,” said Susan LeLacheur, DrPH ’08, PA-C ’89, BS ’80, before the 56 members of the 2022 PA class donned their coats and recited the physician assistant oath. The ceremony, however, wasn’t limited to the official donning. Student speaker Brynn Hill, PA ’22, outlined the gravity of what she and her classmates had accomplished during the COVID-19 pandemic.



“We are and will always be the GW PA Class of 2022. This speech is dedicated to us, to friendship, to being there for each other during the happy, triumphant moments and during the troubling times of uncertainty and instability,” she said. “We will always hold deep feelings of love and respect for each other. It's the culture that characterizes the GW PA program, it's the culture that defines our profession. And that is the torch we carry with us as we leave this campus.”



Keynote speaker Tamara S. Ritsema, PhD, MPH, PA-C/R, associate professor of physician assistant studies at GW SMHS, mirrored Hill’s comments, acknowledging the class’s accomplishments from the educator perspective.



“I’m so proud of you and the resilience you've shown,” Ritsema said. “Each one of you kept studying and taking care of patients, even when there were so many reasons to focus on other things that were going on in the world. Your class will always have a special place in the hearts of our faculty for how you conquered such difficult circumstances. We’re so proud of you. You did it.”

The program also recognized students with the following awards:

•    Academic Excellence Award: Claire Hunt, PA ’22

•    Community Service Award: Julia Vanni, PA ’22

•    Humanitarian Award: Edith Teng, PA ’22

•    Leadership Award: Ryan Wier, PA ’22

•    Professionalism Award: Frances Adams, PA ’22

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