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Convocation emphasizes professionalism and physician responsibility

Two physicians honored with Phillips Medal of
Public Service Awards



Donning the short white coat for the first time on Saturday during the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine 36th Annual Convocation Ceremony, the 140 members of the Class of 2015 learned that the traditional doctor’s lab coat means more than practicing medicine.

“This coat, which represents our longstanding traditions and our medical profession, is literally wrapped around you ― you are helped into it by members of the profession,” said keynote speaker Lois M. Nora, M.D., J.D., M.B.A., referencing the fact that each student was helped into his or her coat by one of four OU-HCOM alumni. Nora is interim president and dean of The Commonwealth Medical College.

Receipt of the white coat marks the entry of OU medical students into the osteopathic medical profession, as students are required to wear the coat while accompanying physicians in clinical settings. Unlike other medical schools, OU-HCOM bestows the coat at the beginning of the students’ medical studies because they start patient contact and clinical experiences as early as their first weeks of medical school. Nora told the new medical students that the coat represents the medical profession, which carries special responsibilities that flow from special knowledge, skills and privileges bestowed by society.

“The coat can stand as a constant reminder to you of the responsibilities that you will grow into but also that you now have,” Nora said. “Responsibilities like listening your patients’ confidences, treating individuals regardless of their ability to pay, and treating patients and their families with respect. You mostly have the responsibility to recognize that you are here not to serve yourself, but as a physician to serve others.”

Nora reminded the students that although they may seem to be the center of attention during the Saturday ceremony, the most important people at the event were the audience. Looking to the audience that filled much of Memorial Auditorium, she said they play an important, symbolic role.

“You represent the patients, the families and the communities that these students will learn from and will serve throughout their careers,” Nora said. “You represent the babies not yet born, the lives that will be saved, the people that will be cared for, the families who will be supported and the communities that will be healthier because of this OU-HCOM Class of 2015.”

Also addressing the audience about professionalism and the power of the white coat was second-year medical student and OU-HCOM Student Government President Valerie Van Ravenswaay.  In recalling her first experience wearing the coat in a clinical setting, she remembered the physician introducing her to a patient as “Doctor Van Ravenswaay.”

At the time, just weeks into her first quarter in medical school, Van Ravenswaay told the audience, “I smiled and thought to myself, ‘you really wouldn’t want me to be your doctor.’”

She used this experience to illustrate her point that once the students put on their white coat, people will view them differently. “In an instant, you go from being a student to being a professional; from being a student to being seen as a physician, so even though you may not feel like one, you need to have the integrity of a physician,” she said.

“Very soon you will walk into a room wearing your white coat, and patients will pour out their hearts to you and tell you things that they haven’t told anyone before,” she said. “As patients put their lives and trust in your hands, embrace the opportunity to learn from them ― let them teach you.”

Besides the white coat, Saturday’s event served as the venue for presenting OU-HCOM’s highest award, the Phillips Medal of Public Service Awards. Named for the late J. Wallace Phillips and Jody Galbreath Phillips, the award recognizes individuals for their public service and contributions to health care and education. This year’s recipients were Dr. Nora and Robert S. Juhasz, D.O., medical director of the Cleveland Clinic Willoughby Hills Family Medical Center and a trustee of the American Osteopathic Association.

OU-HCOM Dean Jack A. Brose, D.O., said that Dr. Nora was being honored for her “contributions on a national level in areas where issues of the law and medicine intersect, for her efforts in addressing the country’s physician workforce shortage, and her leadership in advancing ethics in medicine.”

Juhasz received the medal for his “tireless advocacy for OU-HCOM and osteopathic medicine, his national leadership for the implementation of electronic health records, and for his advocacy for continued improvement in all levels of osteopathic medical education, Brose said.

In addition to Brose, Nora and Van Ravenswaay, speakers included comments from the following university leaders and members of the osteopathic medical community:

  • Roderick McDavis, Ph.D., Ohio University president
  • Pamela Benoit, Ph.D., Ohio University executive vice president and provost
  • Robert S. Juhasz, D.O.
  • Albert M. Salomon, D.O., an internal medicine physician in private practice and 2011 president of the Ohio Osteopathic Association
  • Jeffrey A. Stanley, D.O. (’82), chief of vascular surgery and director of the Vascular Surgery Fellowship Program at Cleveland Clinic South Pointe Hospital, and president of the OU-HCOM Society of Alumni and Friends
  • Keith Watson, D.O., senior associate dean for academic affairs

In speaking to the students, Brose noted that the entering class represents OU-HCOM’s largest ever ― it includes 84 percent who hail from Ohio, 14 percent from Ohio Appalachian counties, 24 percent minorities and 45 percent women.


“Regardless of your background, each and every one of you was selected because you have the potential to be an outstanding osteopathic physician,” he said in closing. “We are expecting great things of you!”

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Last updated: 01/28/2016