Monday, September 27, 2021

2021 SLU Program in Physical Therapy Class of 2024 White Coat Ceremony

Saint Louis University Program in Physical Therapy held its White Coat Ceremony for the DPT Class of 2024, on Sunday, September 26, 2021, at St. Francis Xavier College Church and livestreamed on YouTube.
During the ceremony, incoming Saint Louis University Program in Physical Therapy students are cloaked in their first white coat as a symbol of their formal initiation to the profession of physical therapy, an acknowledgment of their accomplishments thus far, and a glimpse into their future as doctors of physical therapy. Kim Levenhagen, PT, DPT, WCC, CLT, FNAP, Associate Professor in the Program in Physical Therapy, served as the mistress of ceremonies for the event.
Michael May, S.J., Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, and well known to the students during their pre-professional phase, led the ceremony in a prayer for the physical therapist.

Fred Pestello, Ph.D., president of Saint Louis University, delivered the keynote address.

Dr. Pestello shared some of the reasons he chose to join the ceremony. "Over the course of your career, you will positively impact tens of thousands of people, make a difference in their lives, men and women for and with others. I thank you for this dedication to this work and I have an understanding of how difficult and challenging it is."

Alysia Beirne, SPT, Class of 2022, addressed the Class of 2024 as the White Coat Ceremony student speaker. The Program in Physical Therapy Faculty chose Alysia to be this year’s White Coat Ceremony speaker because of Alysia’s dedication to service to the University and profession. 

Alysia said "I recently completed twenty weeks of my clinical experience this summer where I got to see firsthand how respected this program is in the world of PT. You get held to a higher standard because you are representing SLU. Therefore earning your white coat is a pretty big deal. It is your rite of passage moving into the clinical world of physical therapy." She went on to say, "This program doesn't just make good therapists but puts us on the path to become great ones."
During the ceremony, students from the Class of 2022 coated the Class of 2024 students as a symbol of passing on the responsibility of patient care in the profession of physical therapy.

Afterward, Ann Hayes, PT, DPT, professor in the Program in Physical Therapy, gave the Oath of the Physical Therapist, in unison with faculty, professional phase students, and practicing clinicians. 

Dr. Hayes also recognized the 2021 Florence P. Kendall Service Award winner, Paula Burnett, PT, for outstanding service to the health care community as well as serving as a life-long role model who exhibits intellectual curiosity, persistence in the pursuit of excellence, dedication to the profession, the dissemination of knowledge, and enthusiasm for living life to its fullest. She is the Director of Rehabilitation Services at the Capital Region Medical Center in Jefferson City, Missouri, and has worked tirelessly for her profession serving in a variety of roles for the Missouri American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). 
Paula Burnett with Florence Kendall
Ms. Burnett shared these words with the Class of 2024. "Congratulations on choosing a profession where you can improve a person’s quality of life. As a DPT, I challenge you in this profession to:  dedicate yourself to lifelong learning;  promote and advocate for your profession;  be thankful for the profession you have chosen, your teachers, mentors, peers, and the patients you have the opportunity to learn from. Never underestimate the difference you can make.”  

"Know that today you are stepping onto the path that was started by all of the preceding students who have matriculated through this curriculum," said Dr. Levenhagen. "You will follow their footsteps and create your own. In the future, you will reach back as alumni to help students develop skills in clinical settings. We all cannot wait to watch you make your way down this path."

You can learn more about the event on the Doisy College of Health Sciences website.

To view and order photographs from the day's event, please visit:
Story by Kristin Hrasky

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