UAMS Presents White Coats to First Physician Assistant Students


The inaugural class recited the Physician Assistant Oath, highlightingtheir responsibitlity for professionalism, teamwork and providing the best patient care possible.
The inaugural class of 26 students in the new physician assistant program at UAMS. 

June 12, 2013 | In a ceremony signifying the transition toward becoming a health care professional, the first 26 students in the physician assistant program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) received their student white coats June 7.

The white coat ceremony was the first for the full-time, 28-month master’s degree program, which accepted its first students this year. Physician Assistants are licensed medical providers who work with the supervision of a physician. They take patient medical histories, conduct physical exams, order diagnostic tests, diagnose medical conditions, write prescriptions and manage acute illness and chronic disease with the supervision of a physician. The UAMS program, in its College of Health Professions, is the first at a public university in Arkansas.

Each of the students donned a brand new white coat that they will wear during their clinical experiences in the program. The group then recited the Physician Assistant Professional Oath, which highlights their responsibility for professionalism, teamwork and providing the best possible care to patients.

“As the first group of physician assistant students at UAMS, you are trailblazers who will light the path for future classes to follow while at the same time preparing yourselves for careers to deliver patient- and family-centered care that will improve health and health care,” said UAMS Chancellor Dan Rahn, M.D. “In a time of great changes, our country’s health care system needs you more and more every day as demand for care is poised to increase significantly in the years ahead.”

The UAMS physician assistant program, established in 2011, received accreditation in March from the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, the final approval needed before admitting its first class of students. Students began classes in May.

“Physician assistants will help Arkansas see significant progress in the health of our people. This new UAMS program is an exciting addition for educating generations of health care professionals who will help all of us get healthy and stay healthy,” said Vic Snyder, M.D., corporate medical director for external affairs for Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield and former Arkansas congressman, delivered the ceremony’s keynote address before the students received their white coats.

The physician assistant students receiving their white coats for the Class of 2015 included:

Kara Baker
Caddo Gap
Eva Barlogie
Little Rock
Brittany Barnes
Taylor Caston
Ashley Fairchild
Depew, Okla.
Jessica Fite
Stefani Ford
North Little Rock
Bradley Griffin
Annaleigh Harper
Little Rock
Antonia Hudson
Little Rock
Alissa Huberty
North Little Rock
Joshua Johnson
Little Rock
Ashley Loftis

Jonathan McCrary
Hot Springs
Courtney Mosley
Mai Nguyen
Little Rock
Kumar Patel
Little Rock
Kayla Pipkins
Little Rock
Matthew Reynolds
Little Rock

Kathryn Schaiff
Letifeh Shafii
Little Rock

Drew Sibenmorgen
Little Rock

Christa Barlett

Samantha Strong
Dallas Texas
Michelle Bruzatori
North Little Rock

Veronica Sumner
Little Rock

“The students were excited to get to work,” said Patricia Kelly, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Physician Assistant Studies. “Seeing classes begin last month was really rewarding and a testament to a lot of hard work by our faculty, college and UAMS in assembling the program from concept to execution.”

Renovations were recently completed on a 4,049-square-foot building, a part of the former state hospital complex that the UAMS College of Health Professions moved into in 2009. The building includes two laboratory spaces where physician assistant students will receive hands-on practice.

A physical exam lab will include 11 clinical exam tables where students will practice taking patient histories and learn skills for performing physical exams. Another lab will provide space for teaching procedures such as casting, suturing and lumbar puncture.

Arkansas ranks 49th in the nation for the number of practicing physician assistants. Kelly said that means the profession may be unfamiliar to some physicians in the state. The UAMS program will work to raise awareness of the profession and its benefits among Arkansas physicians and help prepare physicians who supervise students while they gain further clinical experience, she said. 

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