Western Atlantic University School of Medicine’s (WAUSM) Grand Bahama campus hosted its sixth White Coat ceremony and second Community Presentation on the weekend, signifying the institution’s commitment to the island and its goal of being the best medical educational facility in the region.
The school expanded its enrolment to 158 Saturday morning, when 45 new med students received their white coats during an event held in the Ballroom at the Grand Lucayan Resort. The short white coats indicate they are in training. They will receive the more familiar long white lab coats upon graduation.
The keynote speaker at the ceremony, Dr. Philippa Davis told the aspiring physicians not to worry about being nervous and to take care of themselves in order to keep the health care system itself healthy.
Davis, who is the daughter of Prime Minister Philip Davis, said when she began her studies 22 years ago, her father told her, “It is okay to have butterflies, but make sure they fly in formation.
“So, the three foundational principles on how to fly in formation as individuals in medicine – humble confidence, compassionate care for yourself, your patients and others, and purpose partners.”
Davis said the journey through medicine is one of progression, not perfection and purpose partners are colleagues, friends and family members who offer support along the way.
“Our compassion is equally important as the quality care we give patients. It is critical that you take care of yourselves and each other.”
Later in the afternoon, business leaders, doctors and guests attended an informal Open House at the medical school, where they learned about the institution’s progress to date and toured the multi-million-dollar facility off East Sunrise Highway.
“It is very important for WAUSM to inform the community and be a part of it, because we want to be a partner here and we want to be a part of the renaissance for Freeport and Grand Bahama,” said WAUSM’s Founding Campus Dean of Pre-Clerkship Dr. Laura Welke.
“We want to network, partner and build relationships with other community stakeholders and the residents.”
WAUSM opened its Grand Bahama campus in January 2022 with 15 students and a three-phase plan that will eventually see a facility accommodating up to 600 students.
Welke said getting feedback from the students is crucial.
She said, “This is a new school and as educators, we feel like we have a collective knowledge to get this to be successful, but we are always looking at students and asking them ‘what works for you?’
“‘How could you learn this the best way; what are the best strategies; how can we change it to be better?’
“It makes them feel that they have a voice and we take their suggestions and thoughts into consideration and implement them, because we are only going to be successful if they are successful.”
WAUSM has partnered with a number of organizations on the island, including Doctors Hospital.
Dr. Sheena Antonio-Collie, Doctors Hospital chief medical officer, believes the relationship between WAUSM and Doctors is a boost for medical education in the country.
“We will be providing tips for their students and really facilitating medical education in the country, and that is a very big deal for us,” Antonio-Collie said.
“We have our Kavala Medical Center in Eight Mile Rock, the medical center and Urgent Care Center in Freeport. We are introducing high tech, high touch care in the northern district.
“So, we are very excited about partnering with WAUSM and the Rand Memorial Hospital to enable and facilitate more access for care. That’s very important for us, access to health care.”
Antonio-Collie congratulated the new medical students.
“We see the future of medicine with these students,” she said.