BOZEMAN – A new entering class of 30 first-year WWAMI Medical Education Program students at Montana State University received their white coats and stethoscopes Friday morning during an annual ceremony held in the presence of faculty, mentors, family and loved ones.
The ceremony honors the new medical students and their enrollment into a rigorous and selective program that will transform them into medical professionals, according to Martin Teintze, director of the MSU WWAMI Medical Education Program.
Teintze said this year’s 30 students were selected from more than 100 Montana applicants.
“Every year I’m always impressed by what wonderful students we get in this program,” Teintze said. He noted that in addition to their academic achievements, key attributes the entering students possess are problem solving skills, analytic ability, personal integrity and humanitarian qualities, among others.
WWAMI is a cooperative medical education program that allows students from Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho to earn medical degrees from University of Washington's top-ranking School of Medicine while paying in-state tuition. Montana students spend the first 18 months enrolled at both MSU and UW, receiving instruction from MSU professors as well as physicians at Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital as a result of a new curriculum change last year. Students then participate in required and elective clerkships throughout the WWAMI region; students must spend 12 weeks at UW hospitals in Seattle, but may complete the rest of their clerkships at sites in Montana. MSU is the only Montana institution with which UW partners to educate the students in the 18-month Foundations Phase.
Nearly 200 guests attended the ceremony, held in the Strand Union Building’s Ballroom A. The ceremony included remarks from Teintze and UW Associate Dean for Admissions Carol Teitz.
Teitz described the importance of the doctor’s white coat, which doctors have been wearing for almost 100 years. The color alone signifies purity, truth, candor and cleanliness, she said.
“The doctor’s white coat has become…a cloak of compassion,” Teitz said. “A person wearing a white coat is a person a patient can trust.”
In addition to welcoming the students into the medical profession, the white coat ceremony also helps make students aware of their professional responsibilities and encourages them to accept the obligations inherent in practicing medicine. As part of an orientation held earlier this summer, the students reviewed several widely used physician’s oaths before creating their own as a class. The students recited their oath at the ceremony.
The ceremony coincided with the opening of a new MSU WWAMI program suite located on the newly completed second floor of the Highland Park 5 Medical Office Building, which is part of the Bozeman Health Deaconess Hospital medical campus. Investments made by MSU and generous donors made possible the $2.1 million interior buildout of the space, Teintze said. MSU is also covering the cost of leasing the space.
As the state’s largest biomedical and health research and teaching institution, MSU has been a WWAMI partner since 1971. In 2013, the Montana Legislature approved a permanent expansion of the state's WWAMI program from 20 to 30 students annually, which was the first expansion of WWAMI in 42 years. Because of those efforts, 10 more Montana residents have access to a medical education annually. Two cohorts totaling 60 students are now educated in the program each year.
Central to the program is having Montanans serve Montanans, said WWAMI Program Manager Ashley Siemer.
“You can see that in our vision statement: Improving the health of Montanans by educating future physicians dedicated to providing care for communities across the state,” Siemer said. “We want to ground our students in the idea that being a physician is a privilege, and part of that privilege means taking care of communities.”
The white coat recipients and the colleges they attended are listed below by hometown:
Tara Bachofer, Montana State University
Bryanna Cordeiro, University of Montana
Tyler Hooton, Brigham Young University-Idaho
Keenan Kuckler, Rocky Mountain College
Angela Bangs, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
Clarissa Paz-Stoltzfus, Montana State University
Chance Stewart, Carroll College
Ezekial Koslosky, Carroll College
Connor McCormick, University of Idaho
Sarah LaPierre, Carroll College
Elisabeth Miller, Great Falls, Carroll College
MaryGlen Vielleux, Montana State University
Erinleigh Caughron, Gonzaga University
Shauna Milne-Price, Washington University in St. Louis
Melanie Morris, Lewis and Clark College
Dalton Peaslee, University of Montana
Michael Skerda, Carroll College
Alison Armstrong, University of Montana
Bradford Huff, University of Montana
Natalie Jamieson, Montana State University
Isabel Makman, University of Montana
Andrew Monforton, Montana State University
Shelby Traeger, Carroll College
Gregory Doctor, Montana State University
Cyrus Gilbert, University of Washington
Sarah Hendricks, University of Montana
Sean Seagraves, Washington State University
Hannah Vigne, Carroll College
Tessa Zolnikov, University of Montana
White Sulphur Springs:
Kayla Secrest, University of Montana
Contact: Martin Teintze, director, MSU WWAMI Medical Education Program, (406) 994-4411 or email@example.com