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COMP-Northwest Welcomes 105 New Students

LEBANON, Ore. (PRWEB) August 03, 2013

New osteopathic medical students were urged to find balance in work and life at the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific-Northwest’s third annual Convocation and white coat ceremony Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013 in Lebanon, Ore.

The ceremony, at Lebanon First Assembly of God Church, welcomed 105 new students to Western University of Health Sciences’ Oregon campus.

Keynote speaker Jim Willis, retired director of the Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs, drew on his years of military and police service in addressing the students and their families. For many years he trained new recruits for the Oregon State Police, and the basis of this training was pride, loyalty and dedication.

"It is a pride that is not arrogance. It is a loyalty that is earned, both from you and to you by the people with whom you work," Willis said. "And the dedication to understand that what you are doing is a career that you own from the time you begin this medical school to the time that title is conferred on you. You are going to own your career."

He anticipates a strong relationship between COMP-Northwest and the Oregon veterans home under construction nearby.

"We hope that this home will offer you the opportunity to interact with the residents in a learning environment," Willis said. "Remember that we work where they live, not the other way around. They come first. It’s their home."

Some veterans and their spouses are at a point in their lives when they speak bluntly and to-the-point.

"I encourage you to use the opportunity at the Oregon veterans home that I hope will come in the next several years to establish the ability to meet people with different personalities, and in all different states of anxiety who really want to be better," Willis said. "They want the quality of their life to be as good as it possibly can for as long as they have left."

Willis and white coat ceremony keynote and alumni speaker Katherine Fisher, DO ’83, both spoke about life balance. Willis encouraged students to spend quality time with family and also take time for themselves.

Fisher, a new COMP-Northwest faculty member, said her tenure on the Oregon Medical Board taught her if doctors don’t keep a balance in life and forget who they are, they are much more likely to end up in front of the board for disciplinary action for some poor choice.

Family is what matters most – both your actual family and the other families you create throughout your life.

"You may think you have just been accepted into medical school, but what is really happening is you have been adopted into the family of WesternU and COMP-Northwest," Fisher said. "We the faculty and staff are now part of your family and we will do everything in our power to help you succeed. Thank you and welcome home."

COMP Interim Dean and Vice President of Oregon Campus Operations Paula Crone, DO ’92, told students they have chosen a life of dedication and of service.

"You will take a pledge of commitment today and an oath in four short years," she said. "In exchange you will earn a very special place in our society. Plan to use this privilege carefully and respectfully. Use it wisely. Use it to be healers, not just doctors. Use it to be leaders in your communities and to always be a champion of your future patients."

Students were cloaked in their white clinical jackets for the first time, signifying their entry into the health professions. They also each received a medical bag, donated by community members through the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce’s Tools of the Trade program.

Donning the white coat is a heavy responsibility and a great honor, representing all the support he received from family, friends and mentors, said first-year COMP-Northwest student Joshua Strait, DO ’17.

"My patients are why I have my coat on," he said. "That's why it's a heavy responsibility."

First-year student Kayla Winkle, DO ’17, became interested in COMP-Northwest while she was an undergraduate at Warner Pacific College, said her mother, Kaylyn Winkle.

"She really liked the area. She really liked the campus. I know that even though she interviewed at other schools, this was her first choice," Winkle said. "She has a goal of working in a rural community. That’s what she likes; that’s what she’s grown up in."

Classmate Bryce Arnold, DO '17, also came from a small town – Sugar City, Idaho.

"Lebanon is a relatively small community," Arnold said. "Everybody knows each other and everybody helps each other here. There is a high standard for students and the community expects us to uphold that standard and be that example for them. That’s a big deal for me. That's what a small community is all about."

The students met Dr. Pumerantz at the President's ice cream social on Friday, Aug. 2. Students spend a few moments with the president and also get to know classmates and faculty in an informal setting.

"I had the opportunity to greet over 100 new medical students who came to the ice cream social," Pumerantz said. "To each one I said, 'Someday you're going to be somebody's physician. You're going to really care for someone. You're going to improve the quality of life for a lot of people. You're going to make a difference. And you're getting your start right here."

Friday's events ended with the annual Crystal and Cheers, which brings together COMP-Northwest supporters and faculty, staff and administrators. COMP-Northwest presented Lifetime Distinguished Educator Awards to Keith W. Harless, MD, Erling J. Oksenholt, DO, and Al Turner, DO.

The WesternU Board of Trustees surprised Dr. Pumerantz with the unveiling of a bronze bust, which complements the statue of the president on WesternU's Pomona campus.

About Western University of Health Sciences

Western University of Health Sciences (, located in Pomona, Calif. and Lebanon, Ore., is an independent nonprofit health professions university, conferring degrees in biomedical sciences, dental medicine, health sciences, medical sciences, nursing, optometry, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant studies, podiatric medicine and veterinary medicine. The Chronicle of Higher Education named WesternU a Great College to Work For in 2012 and 2013.

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