A Healthier Future – FHSD Holds White Coat Ceremony for Biomedical Students

Posted on 05/01/2018
A Healthier Future – FHSD Holds White Coat Ceremony for Biomedical Students

Because of our aging population, new technology, and advances in medical practices, health care occupations are in high demand … a demand that will continue to rise as people live longer and healthier lives. And like any service, those who need health care want the most skilled practitioner available. FHSD’s Project Lead The Way (PLTW) Biomedical Sciences courses strive to develop those skills in future practitioners. As a way of recognizing the most dedicated health care students, the District recently held its second annual White Coat Ceremony.

“This year was our second White Coat Ceremony for students who have participated in the third level PLTW Biomedical Sciences class,” said Jessica Rowe, who teaches Biomedical Science at Francis Howell Central High School. “Since each course is rigorous and geared toward students who have an interest in Biomedical Science careers, those in the third level class, Medical Interventions, are sincerely working towards health-related careers. This year, we have 72 students in the MI course across the three high schools, and 54 of the 72 were able to attend and participate in the ceremony.”

The students challenge themselves in a difficult subject, so the white coats symbolize their achievement. Rowe explained, “The white coat is presented as an acknowledgment that they have worked hard, and also that they are well on their way to a biomedical science career. Therefore, they are, in a way, committing to the next steps in their education and training. In medical institutions, the short white coats (same as those awarded in our MI ceremony) are typically provided to medical students, residents, and interns.”

The students are ecstatic to receive the coats, but the teachers are just as happy to see them achieve this goal. Rowe talked about how closely students and teachers work together in the courses, often working with the same groups. “The event is definitely an emotional, feel-good celebration of the students' work, potential for making a positive difference in the medical community in their years ahead, and a way to promote enthusiasm for these areas of study. It's incredibly satisfying, enjoyable, and heartwarming to focus our time and energy on what is going well in our schools and in our District. We are so proud of our students and this event is meant to express those feelings.”

All of the students are juniors and seniors, many of whom will complete the Biomedical Innovations capstone class, while others have plans for attending college in the fall. Rowe gushed about her students, including those who have already committed to colleges. “The students from FHC include one who was accepted to the 6-year Medical School program at UMKC (Isabel Schwartz) and many others who have declared science majors such as Biology, Biochemistry, and Pre-Med. They have career goals such as physical therapy, cardiac nursing, and genetic engineering.”

With health care students, we’re not just talking about their future success, but our future health, as well. “We truly believe they are the ones that will improve our health care as we age,” Rowe said. “Knowing the kids who can and will make our world better makes us want to go to work each day. Also, we have witnessed these particular kids grow up. We meet many of them as 14-year-old freshmen in their first week of high school, and by the time the White Coat Ceremony rolls around, they have matured so much and have transitioned to young adults with skills and knowledge that make them powerful. “

The ceremony was a coordinated event put on by teachers Meghan Sullivan (FHHS), Matthew Riffee (FHN), and Rowe (FHC), each spending their extra time getting the coat sizes right, reserving and designing the stage, and arranging for the guest speaker. And rounding out the team effort, Mercy Kids donated the white coats.

“This White Coat Ceremony is an extra – it's not expected, not required, and not standard. In a way, it's a gift we give our students beyond the classroom.” And it’s also a gift to the community, as these students and teachers forge a healthier future.

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