Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) at Seton Hill medical students marked their transition from classroom study to clinical education on Saturday, February 13, 2010, as students received their white coats, which are symbols of the trust between doctor and patient, of compassion, and of the purity of a medical professional’s purpose.

In the Seton Hill University Performing Arts Center in Greensburg, more than 100 students in LECOM at Seton Hill’s inaugural class pledged to uphold professionalism and competence in the presence of their families, professors and peers. Students receiving their white coats will be members of the class of 2013.

The White Coat Ceremony initiates aspiring health care professionals into a commitment to the highest principles related to the practice of medicine and pharmacy. The White Coat Ceremony marks not only the entrance into medical and pharmacy school, but also matriculation into the health care professions with all of its traditions, accomplishments, rights and profound responsibilities to humankind. The students are now ready to embark on the highest quality in medical education as they start work with physicians and pharmacists in clinical courses and practices where they will learn more about how they can partner with their patients on a pathway to better health for their lifetimes.

Courtney Bunevich, D.O., M.S., delivered the keynote address. Bunevich is a 2006 graduate of the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, where she also received a Master of Science in medical education degree in 2009. She is the chief resident of Internal Medicine at Millcreek Community Hospital in Erie.

“The white coat represents the start of a long pathway of academic and clinical dedication,” Bunevich said. “LECOM medical students have the opportunity to prove to the community that the future of health care is optimistic and filled with eager, bright minds that recognize that wearing the White Coat is not only an honor, but also an opportunity to become partners with our patients on a pathway to better health and longer lives.”

Among the LECOM administrators attending were John Ferretti, D.O., president and CEO of LECOM, Silvia M. Ferretti, D.O., provost, senior vice president and dean of Academic Affairs at LECOM, and Irving Freeman, Ph.D., J.D., vice president for LECOM at Seton Hill. Special guests at the event included JoAnne Boyle, Ph.D., president of Seton Hill University; Carlo DiMarco, D.O., regional dean of Clinical Education at LECOM and immediate past president of the American Osteopathic Association, and William Kuprevich, D.O., president of the Pennsylvania Osteopathic Medical Association (POMA). POMA provides the white coats and the stethoscopes to all the osteopathic medical students.

The Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and LECOM School of Pharmacy offer innovative and affordable education in osteopathic medicine and pharmacy. From campuses in Erie, Pa., Greensburg, Pa., and Bradenton, Fla., LECOM provides student-centered pathways to prepare the next generation of healthcare professionals.

Seton Hill University has a cooperative degree program with the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine that enables qualifying Seton Hill pre-med freshmen to also reserve a seat at LECOM at Seton Hill. Seton Hill students enrolled in the Osteopathic Medicine Cooperative Degree Program with LECOM can earn both an undergraduate degree and a medical degree in as little as seven years.