The New York College of Podiatric Medicine (NYCPM) in East Harlem held its annual White Coat ceremony on September 5, 2023, welcoming 88 new students to the profession.
The late afternoon event was held in the elegant auditorium of the New York Academy of Medicine, on Fifth Avenue in East Harlem.
“White Coat” is the annual rite of passage for new medical students. They took to the stage one by one and donned monogrammed white jackets as friends, family and faculty cheered them on. Afterwards, they recited together the Oath of Hippocrates, pledging to follow its code of ethics in curing patients and preventing disease.
Throughout the event, speakers reflected on the profession and their own experiences, offering encouragement and suggestions for the students as they embark on their new path forward.
“Remember that healthcare is sacred. You are entering a field that will serve others. Patients will be trusting you with their lives,” said New York State Podiatric Medical Association President Dr. Sandro Frasca, in greetings. “Help each other. Learn to walk together. Medicine today is working as a team, with M.D.s DOs, PAs working together for a common goal – the health of the patient.”
Diverse Class Hails from Around the Globe
The Class of 2027 is a diverse one, with members coming from all over the United States and the world, representing 20 states and five countries. Sixty percent of the class are women, a record number.
Emmanuella Akyeampong grew up in Ghana and drew inspiration to pursue podiatry from her mother, who traveled to New York for the ceremony.
“My mom had a lot of leg problems. I used to watch her, struggling to walk around. There are close to zero podiatrists in my country,” she said. “The kids in Ghana, I want to give them their parents back.”
She was also inspired by her experiences volunteering at a hospital and a nursing home. “I realized a lot of people come to the hospital with a lot of foot issues.
Akyeampong expressed gratitude for a new alumni minority scholarship that is helping to ease her financial burden attending podiatry school. “I think this is the best place to train to be the physician that I really need to be, working with persons of color especially,” she said.
Steven Massoud, from Rutherford, N.J., is from a family of immigrants who came to the U.S. a generation ago from Cairo. Unlike Akyeampong, it was personal injuries that led him to a career in podiatry. While playing academy-level soccer every day in high school, Massoud suffered from tendonitis and the visits to a podiatrist got him interested in going into the field.
“I always thought healthcare was something I aspired to, and being able to help other athletes, especially in soccer, caught my attention,” he said. “I loved the sport.”
Nikolay Igdalov, Class of 2025, and president of the NYCPM Student Association, shared his journey from the podium. He immigrated from the USSR under refugee status, a self-described troubled teen who grew up with adversity. He said he went from one minimum wage job to the next and even found himself homeless at one point.
“Education is the transformative force that changed my life,” said Igdalov. The oath, he told classmates, “will empower you to heal, to make a difference, and to become a successful physician” and the white coat represents the weight of responsibilities to be undertaken.
“Always remember that every step you take brings you closer to becoming the compassionate and skilled podiatrists our world needs,” he said.
Students Urged to Embrace Challenge
In her remarks, Keynote Speaker Dr. Irina Gelman, Class of 2010 and Commissioner of Health, Nassau County Department of Health, stressed the importance of embracing challenges in an ever-changing profession.
“As doctors you must be relentless in your pursuit of knowledge, forever striving to stay at the forefront of medical advancements. Embrace change, for it is through change that we find progress. Embrace the challenges, for it is through challenges that we find growth,” she advised.
Founded in 1911, NYCPM was the nation’s first medical college devoted to educating and training doctors of podiatric medicine. As the country’s preeminent podiatric medical school, NYCPM has graduated more than one-quarter of all active podiatrists in the U.S. ￼
NYCPM has established affiliations with many world-class hospital and health providers, including Mt. Sinai Hospital, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. Through its Foot Center of New York (Foot Center) clinical affiliate, NYCPM operates the largest clinic of its kind in the U.S., with nearly 25,000 patient visits a year.
Photo credit: 1-7) NYCPM.
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