Addison Johnson - White Coat Ceremony Address August 2020

Good Afternoon class of 2022,

I am very excited to be a part of this milestone in your career. A little over a year ago I was sitting where you are today eager and nervous to receive my white coat. What I have come to learn, and what I am sure you are in the middle of experiencing right now, is that PA school waits for no one and information comes at you from a fire hydrant rather than a leaky tap. In the new age of social distancing and online learning, I am sure this has led to quite a few of you pacing your rooms wondering just what did I sign up for and can I actually do this?

The white coat you are receiving today will eventually become an everyday piece of attire. It will be one that you earned through hard work, dedication, and a steadfast commitment to providing for others, even at the risk of your own health. The coat is the embodiment of the road less traveled; a road that many consider but very few take. It is reserved only for those few who can set aside their own desires in the pursuit of giving to all in need of care. This is the first step of many along that road that never truly ends, for as long as you wear the coat, you will never truly stop learning.

My advice is to be fully present in the moment. Be patient, be kind, and be humble. Every day is a learning experience. Cherish these moments, learn from them, and reflect on them. I also caution you to always remember that being a healthcare provider is a privilege and not a right. That very phrase I learned very early on from Dr. Clary and it has really resonated with me throughout my time here. I strive to be humble and caring towards all of my patients in order to earn their trust, and through their trust I am able to provide them the care they need. Without this humility, we simply cannot care for others as we have strived to do.

Maya Angelou once said “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
When you start doubting yourself and your abilities look at your white coat as a reminder of the commitment you made to provide excellent and compassionate care and always remember that you have earned this white coat and deserve it! You are one of the few who have put it upon themselves to travel this road and each day will have its own challenges, setbacks, and victories.

As you leave this ceremony today wearing your white coats with pride all I ask is that whenever things get tough, and setbacks seem to mount, you look at this coat and remember why you chose this road in the first place and that is to give.

Best of luck, Class of 2022!

  • Addison Johnson speaking at the PA White Coat Ceremony - August 2020.