First PA students receive white coats during inaugural ceremony

Contact:  Lisa Sollie

MERIDIAN, Miss.—Mississippi State University-Meridian’s inaugural cohort of 19 Physician Assistant Studies students have earned the program’s first white coats during a ceremony at MSU’sstudents in white coats on stage Riley Center on Saturday [March 5].

“For the student, the white coat ceremony marks a transition,” said James R. Kilgore, interim program director of MSU-Meridian’s Physician Assistant Studies program. “It signifies they are moving from the classroom to the clinical setting where they are expected to become providers of compassionate and empathic healthcare.”

After receiving their coats, the students took the Pledge of Professionalism in Medicine, stating their commitment to adhere to the science and art of the practice of medicine. The cornerstones of this promise are sympathy, compassion and understanding of their patients.

“It is an honor to have earned the right to wear this white coat alongside my classmates. It is symbolic of our dedication, flexibility, and resilience thus far,” said CeRina James of York, Alabama. “I'm proud of every single person in my cohort for the long nights and seemingly endless days of hard work that they've put in to get to this point. PA school has been the absolute hardest thing I've ever done—but I'm confident that it’s also one of the best things—and I’m excited to see what this new phase will hold for the Class of 2023.”

Students now begin rotations in clinical areas including internal medicine, family medicine, behavioral health, pediatrics, general surgery, emergency medicine and women’s health. At the end of the rigorous clinical training, they will graduate in May 2023. They then will be eligible to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Exam to become licensed to practice medicine in collaboration with licensed physicians.

“It is my honor to help train the next generation of healthcare professionals at my alma mater. Knowledge attained from books, didactic lectures, and preceptors is important—but the PA students will soon learn their greatest teachers will be their patients,” said Dr. Van Wurm, MSU assistant clinical professor in the PA Studies program and a 1993 MSU alumnus. “It is a great privilege to care for patients, especially in Mississippi where the healthcare needs are great.”

The state’s only publicly funded PA program, MSU-Meridian’s program in 2020 achieved Accreditation-Provisional status, the initial phase of accreditation for all new programs granted by the Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant, or ARC-PA.

MSU PA students earning a white coat include (by hometown):

BATON ROUGE, Louisiana—Kelly Edmonds

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama—Madison Reese

BRANDON—Kaitlin White

BROOMFIELD, Colorado—Megan Wade

CASSELBERRY, Florida—Wesley Wilson




HOUMA, Louisiana—Megan McCormick

LAROSE, Louisiana—Cody Guidry


MERIDIAN—Katherine Bruister

METAIRIE, Louisiana—Jennifer Madden

PETAL—Kaiman Parker

QUITMAN—Kallie Belcher

SAN JOSE, California—Madison Whitehead

SANDY HOOK—Jacie McKenzie

SEYMOUR, Indiana—Krishna Patel

YORK, Alabama—CeRina James

Learn more about MSU-Meridian’s Physician Assistant Studies program at
MSU is Mississippi’s leading university, available online at

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