Academics, College of Health Sciences

Physician Assistant Program celebrates another milestone

By CSU Media | January 15, 2019
PA Program cohort and faculty

The Physician Assistant Program at CSU began its first cohort in January 2018. The inaugural class of 25 students recently completed the didactic year of the program, which was celebrated with the program’s first White Coat Ceremony. 

Similar to graduation, the White Coat Ceremony represents a new beginning. Unlike graduation, this ceremony does not symbolize the end of the academic journey for students. Instead, it marks the transition from the classroom to the bedside. For the past year, these students have spent the majority of their time in the classroom, in lecture and in lab, studying to obtain the medical knowledge and clinical skills necessary to practice medicine.

However, as Sir William Osler, physician and founding professor of Johns Hopkins Hospital, once said, “Medicine is learned by the bedside and not in the classroom.” So during the White Coat Ceremony, the program celebrated the transition of the inaugural class out of the classroom and into hospitals, clinics, emergency rooms, and operating rooms, to continue their educational journey in the places where the patient is the ultimate teacher.

During the ceremony, President Dondi Costin encouraged the PA students to remember the white coat signifies the students’ opportunity to help others. He said, “You represent CSU and the Great Physician.” 

Dr. James Martin, a local physician and strong supporter of the PA Program, said, “Make each day your masterpiece.” He also said, “It’s not the coat; it’s the person wearing the coat and the compassion you show to each of your patients. Serve God by serving your patients.”

Gabrielle Poole, director of the PA Program, shared about the experience:  “The White Coat Ceremony was truly a celebration as it marked a milestone for the program as we continue to lay the foundation for PA education at CSU.  Not only was I incredibly proud of each student who received a white coat that day but also I was reminded of how grateful I am to the faculty and staff of this program who have done a tremendous job of making this program what it is today.”

On Jan. 7, 2019, these 25 students went out into the community to begin their clinical rotations while the program welcomed its second cohort of 30 students to begin their classroom studies. 

These 30 students in the second cohort were selected from more than 450 applicants through a complex admissions process.  In reflecting on the process, Poole said,  “We look for students who are not only capable of meeting the academic demands of the program but also who exemplify the characteristics that CSU and our department value, and we believe these 30 students will do both of these things well.”   

She added, “We welcome the PA Program Class of 2020 to CSU, and we wish the Class of 2019 the best of luck on their clinical rotations this year!”

Learn more about the CSU Physician Assistant Program at charlestonsouthern.edu/pa.


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