Physical Therapy Students Presented with White Coats


The two-year-old Marshall University School of Physical Therapy held their second white coat ceremony Friday.

Year-one as part of the Marshall University School of Physical Therapy was not easy for Erin Jordan, a native of South Carolina.

“Yeah I’ll be honest it was a challenge, I spend more time here than I do at my own apartment,” Jordan said. “I pretty much live here, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything, I love it.”

Jordan and her fellow first year students took part in the annual Doctor of Physical Therapy White Coat Ceremony at the St. Mary’s Center for Education where the School of Physical Therapy is located. Unlike other physical therapy schools, the two-year old school at Marshall chooses to award the white coats after a year in the program. Dr. Penny Kroll is the Chair of the School of Physical Therapy. Kroll said the idea is do it once the students have begun to see what the course work is like.

“During that year of coursework they’ve taken some practical examinations that let us know that let us know they are capable of handling a clinical environment and so that’s the reason why we give them the white coats at this point and time because after the summer they’re going out into the clinical environment,” Kroll said.

The school is in the candidacy for accreditation stage and hopes to achieve full accreditation next school year. The class that received their white coats Friday are part of a three-year physical therapy program. She said she’s happy with the progression of the program.

“But we have managed to come up with the faculty that have expertise in all the areas that we need to cover and the facilities are fantastic, we couldn’t ask for better,” Kroll said.

Dr. Eric Tarr spoke with the students Friday, he’s the President of the West Virginia Physical Therapy Association. He said he always tells the students to remember to be confident.

“They get to put all the investment they have made in the years leading up to in to practice and so when they go in and start interacting with our patients they need to realize they have that and shake off some of the intimidation,” Tarr said. “90% of getting that patients confidence is being confident in yourself.”

Tarr said receiving the coat means a great deal to prospective physical therapists.

“It’s a big step to go from didactic curriculum into actually putting your hands on patients, so it’s a way to celebrate what they’ve actually learned and give them some confidence as well when they go in, to know that they’ve actually completed something and they should be proud of that and have something to be confident about when they start interacting with patients,” Tarr said.

Gabriel Blanco is a first year student from Cincinnati. He said to receive their coats means a great deal.


Physical therapy student Gabriel Blanco receives white coat.

“I think for anyone of us getting the white coat is really symbolic that you’ve put in the work and gotten that foundation of knowledge and now it’s time to expand upon that and get out there and really just start building up your clinical thought process,” Blanco said.

The class contained 40 students.