Students in the inaugural class of Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences (KCU) in Joplin received their white coats in a ceremony on Monday, July 24, that marked the beginning of the student’s medical careers and the opening of the first new medical school in the state of Missouri in nearly 50 years.
The traditional White Coat Ceremony took place at Joplin High School Performing Arts Center where 162 students raised their hands to take the oath of osteopathic medicine.
“Class of 2021, you are pioneers in a new era in medical education,” said Marc B. Hahn, DO, president and CEO of KCU. “An era that will make a difference in meeting the medical and rural health needs of southwest Missouri and the region.”
It is hoped that KCU-Joplin will help provide new doctors to a region that is experiencing a shortage of primary care physicians. Some patients drive hours for basic care. “By instilling in our students an understanding and appreciation for the unique challenges of caring for rural communities, we hope to inspire our students with a whole-person perspective that improves the health of the region and the state,” said Marci Nielsen, Ph.D., senior vice president for community engagement at KCU.
New student Roxana Beladi, from San Diego, Ca. said she has been working her entire life for this moment. She is up for the challenge of meeting those rural health needs. “I really feel that it’s important to reach all types of communities, not just the big cities,” she said. “My goal is to work in an underserved area as a general practitioner, probably in family medicine.”
Paula Gregory, DO, dean of Joplin’s Farber-McIntire campus in Joplin told the students their new white coat is a symbol of a doctor; a person who teaches, advises and is privileged to know the inner workings of a patient’s life. She reminded them of the tremendous effort among community leaders that made their new school possible. “Joplin is a model of a community that uses gratitude and opportunity to accomplish great things,” Gregory said. “The members of this community seek and find solutions, and you are a part of the solution for this community.”
A message that resonated with students such as Beladi. “I thought I would go to medical school and we would be in our bubble. But I really like how the whole community here in Joplin is really excited we are here. It makes me feel like I’m going to be making a difference in this community.”