LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) – The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) School of Medicine held its annual White Coat Ceremony at The Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts today. 180 students were able to receive their traditional white coats while jumpstarting their careers in medicine. The white coat is one of the most visible and iconic symbols of the health care profession. Steven L. Berk, MD, TTUHSC executive vice president and School of Medicine dean, said for many students, dreams of putting on the white coat begin the day they are accepted into medical school.
“These students have been working very hard for a long time,” Berk said. “They have sacrificed to get to medical school. Many of these students come from different backgrounds, some of them have even had different careers before pursuing medicine. “Not all of them have just graduated college; some have had other jobs like firefighters, EMTs, registered nurses, science teachers, and elementary school teachers,” Berk said.
Kyler Paschall, former Firefighter of the Year for Idalou Fire Department, is one of the students who received his white coat. Paschall said the ceremony for him was the first step on a long journey that he will be taking. “It took me a long point to get here, about five years, and I got about four years ahead of me before I start my own training, so this is the first step, it kind of makes it real,” Paschall said. Paschall started with the Idalou Fire Department as a volunteer, while also attending school and eventually graduating with his bachelor’s degree in 2017. After that, he was introduced to the medicine field by a former coworker who was a physician. “Over that course of time I started gradually dipping my toes in the water with health care,” Paschall said, “and then I began slowly working towards getting to where I could apply to medical school, so it really was a neat experience.”
Paschall was not the only student who started out in a different field. Ross Raedeke has been a musician in Lubbock for the past eight years, he also received his white coat from him during the ceremony. “I’ve done everything from live performances to studio work,” Raedeke said. “Some good buddies of mine from the Spur 327 band, hired us to do their album for them and with them, it was a great pleasure and a big honor when we found out, the next year after releasing the album, that we had been selected by the Texas Country Music Awards to have Country Song of the Year.” Raedeke said he still plans on pursuing music on the weekends, especially since it brings in a little bit of income. He also said it is his passion for him but there is something about medicine that he just loves. He said, “With medicine, I really love the idea that not only do you get to be an expert in your field, but you get to use that expertise to help and care for others, which few have the privilege to do and I think that’s really special”.
Raedeke, Paschall, and all of the other 178 students who received their white coats today have committed so much time, energy, and heart into getting to this point, medical school, and residence. Raedeke said, “this ceremony is both the end of one journey and the start of another lifelong journey, and to finally have this moment it says hey we made it, and here starts our big journey”.
After receiving their white coats, all of these students have taken a common responsibility and oath, a promise to always put their patients first. No matter where these students came from, they all have one thing in common, a passion to save lives.
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