Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, Chiropractic, University News

Celebrating White Coat, Spring 2024

Last weekend, acupuncture and chiropractic students at NWHSU celebrated an important milestone in their education: receiving their white coats.  

The white coat ceremony is a marker of the shift into clinical practice. At the midpoint of the educational journey, it gives students a moment to reflect on how far they’ve come. And of course, it is a moment to celebrate what is up next. Going forward, these students will work in De Rusha Clinic, treating real patients for the first time.  

Dr. Katie Burns Ryan reminded the chiropractic students that the coat is known as a “cloak of compassion.” She also called attention to the coats being a little uncomfortable at first.

“You have to break it in, right? And that’s the same as when you’re in clinic,” she shared. “At first you feel a little uncomfortable but very soon you start showing signs of experience. Just like my white coat shows a lot of signs of experience, and those of your faculty as well. So, you’re going to get there through more experience and hard work in this term and in your future.”  

At the acupuncture and Chinese medicine ceremony, speaker and NWHSU alum Dr. Kailee Carlson spoke about the meaning of the white coat as well. “I urge you to reflect on the profound significance of the white coat you now wear. It symbolizes not only your commitment to excellence but also your pledge to uphold the highest standards of ethics and integrity in your practice.

“It is a symbol of trust—a trust bestowed upon you by your future patients, who will look to you in their moments of vulnerability, seeking solace and relief from ailments they may have thought incurable or something they just had to live with for the rest of their life.” 

Keeping Some Important Promises and Delivering Powerful Advice  

During the chiropractic ceremony, keynote speaker Dr. Jeremy Barthels had a lot to accomplish. It seems he made quite a few promises about what he would do if voted speaker (each year students choose a faculty member to speak). This resulted in him showing up in a Canadian Tuxedo and leading the class in a toast of Mountain Dew. (For the record, he hates Mountain Dew).

At the end of his speech, he shared a personal story, and left the students with an important message about delivering patient care:  

“I implore you as you go into your practices, and you see your patients: check your biases. Check your judgments. Because if you don’t do that you’ve already failed as a practitioner, and I don’t want to see you fail.”  

He went on to explain that in practice they would see many patients who had already been told many times that their pain wasn’t real. “They’re going to come to you, and you can be the same person as they’ve seen before, or you can break that cycle, listen to them, hear them, give them the empathy that they’re seeking, and then get them to where they want to be.”  

Celebrating the Importance of Collaboration & Lifelong Learning  

At the Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine ceremony, Dr. Carlson shared a story to illustrate the responsibility that comes with wearing a white coat. Then, she highlighted the importance of collaboration.  

“Remember that true mastery is not achieved in isolation but through collaboration, learning, and growth. This includes collaborating with other healthcare professionals. This is why our profession is part of the integrative medicine paradigm. I encourage you to work with and not against other healthcare professionals.” 

She also encouraged the students to ask questions. “The beauty of this 3000-year-old medicine, is that the learning never stops. This is why we call medicine a practice. The moment you think you have mastered this medicine is the day you stop growing. I encourage you to never stop growing.”