Marnie Cunningham, Palmerton, was a member of the first class of students in the master of science in Physician Assistant Studies program at Misericordia University, Dallas, Pa., to receive their white coats at a special ceremony held recently in Lemmond Theater in Walsh Hall.

Students were presented with their coats and recited the pledge of a physician assistant, promising to adhere to the core values of honesty, integrity, altruism and empathy of the profession.

The white coat ceremony signifies the completion of the didactic year of study. The students, members of the inaugural Class of 2014, now move into the clinical phase of their training.

The donning of a short coat represents one step in the journey of a student to become a physician assistant. The students will don a longer coat when they graduate and take the Physician Assistant Professional Oath, reminding them to always put the health, safety and privacy of their patients first and at all times be professional.

In the upcoming clinical year, this class of students will perform nine five-week clinical clerkships in a variety of professional settings and learn to evaluate and treat medical problems in ambulatory medicine, long-term care, internal medicine, pediatrics, psychiatry, surgery, women's health, and emergency medicine.

Students will also prepare to take the Physician Assistant National Certifying Examination (PANCE) and an objective standardized clinical examination (OSCE) in order to enter the profession.