Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine Montana Inaugurates First Class with White Coats

Montana Governor and Great Falls Community Welcomes Class of 2027 to the Treasure State as They Don White Coats

September 07, 2023

In an event that doubled as the inauguration of Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine’s (TouroCOM) newest campus in Great Falls, Montana, members of the school’s class of 2027 donned their white coats in a jubilant ceremony that featured Montana’s governor, the senior leadership of Touro, the mayor of Great Falls, and President Biden’s personal physician.

TouroCOM Montana Founding Dean Elizabeth Palmarozzi DO, FACOFP, welcomed the students and their family to a “milestone on their journey to becoming doctors.”

“As we celebrate our inaugural class of 2027, I hope you remember this day with fond memories and pride,” she said.

Touro’s senior leadership at the ceremony included Touro President Dr. Kadish, Touro Provost Patricia Salkin, Touro Executive Vice President Rabbi Moshe Krupka, and TouroCOM Executive Dean Dr. Kenneth Steier.

“The white coat is a uniform and what it signifies is both an opportunity and a privilege,” stressed Touro President Alan Kadish. “The privilege is to do good for society and feel respected… but the obligation is something different. Patients will see you as someone who they can and must depend on for their health. I want each of you to think about that fact as you put on your white coat. You’re getting a mark of privilege and distinction, but also one of obligation and responsibility.”

During his speech, Dr. Steier recounted the difficulties in setting up a new medical school and how TouroCOM Montana was a highlight of his career. Then to the students, he explained the significance of the white coat.

“The white coat represents professional dignity and commitment, commitment to yourself to do your best every day, and to serve your patient whose health will be in your hands,” said Dr. Steier. “The white coat is all that is good in medicine: treat the sick, save the wounded. Wear your white coat proudly and embed yourself in the role you have chosen.”

A Warm Welcome

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte welcomed the new students to the state and said he hoped that the students would continue living in Montana after their graduation.

“As we focus on creating greater and better access to health care, and lowering costs for Montanans, TouroCOM Montana is building a new pipeline of health care leaders to serve with compassion, excellence, and integrity in our communities,” Governor Gianforte said. “We’re thrilled to welcome Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine to the Treasure State.”

Four promising students were surprised with TouroCOM Montana’s inaugural Medical Scientist Training Program Scholarship. The recipients of the scholarship are Alexandra Reyes; Matthew DiGiovanni; Dana Elazar; and Aeyong Jenny Kim.

Speaker Dr. Paul Dolan, chief medical officer Benefis Health System, TouroCOM Montana’s clinical partner, joked that that he might have “stethoscopes older than some of the parents in the audience.”

“This is the start of your journey of learning, and it will last a lifetime,” he said.

Finally, students heard from keynote speaker Dr. Kevin O’Conner, who is the personal physician to President Biden. In a humorous and meaningful speech, Dr. O’Conner led students through his own history as a physician as well as the challenges he faced.

“Each of us has the profound ability to impact the lives of others,” said Dr. O’Conner. “This wonderful gem of a university will make you realize the precious role you are blessed to be in. You belong here.”

He concluded with a quote from Hippocrates.

“Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.”

Incoming student president OMS I Vanshika Arora said the day was momentous for her.

“I am not only honoring my personal dreams but also fulfilling the dreams of my parents who, as immigrants, worked indefatigably to carve a path for me,” said Arora. “As I don the white coat, I am reminded of the promise and responsibility it symbolizes- a commitment to excellence, compassion, and a profound journey of fulfilling the aspiration of many, including my own.”