Thursday, May 09, 2013
Contact: Megan Archer, Assistant to the Dean, College of Health Professions (304) 696-7153

Physical therapy students reflect on first year after receiving white coats

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Twenty-seven students emerged as future physical therapists when slipping into their white coats during the first-ever Marshall University School of Physical Therapy White Coat Ceremony last Friday.

Dr. Tamara Gravano, assistant professor and director of clinical education for the school, said the White Coat Ceremony marks a student’s transition from student to clinical intern, as he or she strives forward to earn a doctoral degree in physical therapy.

“It is a rite of passage, which represents a milestone on the journey toward a career in healthcare professions, and this class has certainly earned it,” Gravano said. “The next two years will be even more challenging as they are expected to expand and apply this knowledge and make clinical decisions of their own – and stand behind them.”

Zachary Fisher, 23, of Huntington, said he is more than ready for the academic challenges he will face during the next two years of clinical rotation.

“This is really exciting because we’ve done so much work hoping to reach our goal of becoming physical therapists,” Fisher said. “With this white coat, it’s like they’re saying ‘Welcome to the world of physical therapy’.”

Fisher compared his first year at the school of physical therapy to climbing a mountain.

“We learn something new every day, growing into better professionals each step of the way,” Fisher said. “It’s kind of like reaching the top of a mountain. I can’t believe we really did it.”

The White Coat Ceremony was initiated on Aug. 20, 1993, at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and has since been adopted by many professional and medical schools, both nationally and internationally.

Joe Trout, 28, of Marion, Va., said as an older student in the program, receiving his white coat fulfilled a long-awaited life dream.

“To know we have one year under our belts and two more to go just goes to show how determination and hard work can really pay off,” Trout said. “I went into this profession to improve the quality of life for individuals and get them back to independence so they can enjoy life to the fullest. I can’t wait to get started this fall.”

Both Fisher and Trout agreed it is the great professors in the School of Physical Therapy that made everything possible.

“Dr. Penny Kroll came to Marshall and got this physical therapy program started,” Fisher said. “We appreciate the experience she has brought to the table and feel so privileged to have her here.”

In August 2010, Kroll was hired to develop the new doctor of physical therapy (DPT) program at Marshall, which achieved candidacy for accreditation and admitted its inaugural DPT degree class in May 2012.

“Our long-term goals for the program are to gain full accreditation in May 2015,” Kroll said. “There is no doubt in my mind this will happen. We will continue to admit 40 competitive students each year and graduate highly qualified therapists to serve the rehabilitation needs of the community.”


Photos: (Above) Ashton Weiss smiles as she receives her white coat from the chair of the School of Physical Therapy, Dr. Penny Kroll, during last Friday’s White Coat Ceremony. (Below) Twenty-seven students received their white coats on May 3, 2013, marking their transformation from student to clinical intern. These students will be the first class to graduate from the Marshall University School of Physical Therapy in May 2015. Photos by Rick Haye/Marshall University.

For further information, contact:  Office of University Communications
Marshall University | 213 Old Main | Huntington, WV 25755-1090
Fax: (304) 696-3197