White Coat Ceremony

The White Coat Ceremony:

WAUSM’s September ’22 Class Marks the Beginning of Medical School

Keynote Speaker Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip Davis remarks on their bright future ahead

Click here to view our full gallery from our September 2022 White Coat Ceremony.


Western Atlantic University School of Medicine’s (WAUSM) September ’22 class was welcomed to medical school by WAUSM and Bahamian government leadership at a distinctive White Coat Ceremony at the Grand Lucayan in Freeport on September 10, 2022.

A diverse class that is 54% male and 46% female, WAUSM’s Sept. ‘22 cohort hails from the United States, Canada, and The Bahamas and includes 17 students from groups considered underrepresented in medicine. Notably, over half worked as healthcare professionals before coming to medical school as nurses, scribes, clinical scientists, lab techs, phlebotomists, and researchers.

“I commend WAUSM for its commitment to diversity and education,” Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Philip “Brave” Davis said in his keynote address. “I’m confident that your best days are ahead of you.”

The Hon. Ginger Moxey, Minister for Grand Bahama, addressed the students, saying, “Whether the driving force behind choosing WAUSM was passion and selflessness or whether it was the fact that its world class programs are offered in a location where you are surrounded by beautiful beaches, a city with amenities, and our rich culture, we are pleased to have you here on Grand Bahama.”

The Hon. Dr. Michael Darville, Minister of Health and Wellness, remarked on the fact that WAUSM has welcomed four Bahamian students in its first three classes and expressed support for the Bahamian government and WAUSM’s shared commitment to create opportunities that will expand both the University and the Bahamian community.

“We’re proud to conduct our third White Coat ceremony, which also marks the achievement of our charter year,” said WAUSM President and Chief Medical Officer Joseph Flaherty, MD. “We expect great outcomes from these students as we celebrate this significant moment in WAUSM’s history.”

The White Coat Ceremony is traditionally conferred on new students during their first year of medical school. The event marks the beginning of medical students’ journey toward achieving the long white coat when they graduate and become MDs. According to the AMA Journal of Ethics, the ceremony also symbolizes professionalism, caring, and trust, which students must earn from their patients.

With a worldwide shortage of MDs specifically in the US, Canada, and The Bahamas, WAUSM is the culmination of a dream its leadership team – which is comprised of elite academicians and administrators hailing from prominent US and Caribbean medical institutions – had to create a world class medical school that is well positioned to train outstanding, patient-centered physicians.

In addition to Dr. Flaherty, who previously served as executive dean of the University of Illinois College of Medicine (2004-2011) and dean and chancellor for Ross University School of Medicine (2011-2017) – retiring from both bestowed with the prestigious honor of Emeritus – WAUSM’s leadership also includes Chief Executive Officer Peter Goetz, who with over 30 years of experience is recognized as the sector’s leading expert in enrollment and change management; Executive Dean and Chief Academic Officer Paula Wales, EdD, who is among North America’s foremost experts in both accreditation standards and curriculum development; and Campus Dean and Professor of Foundational Sciences Laura Welke, PhD, an established leader in the fields of anatomy and neurobiology.

Together with their faculty and staff, WAUSM’s leaders are breaking new ground in medical education by delivering a forward-thinking, hands-on curriculum that is both student-centered and outcomes based.

“Today signifies a rite of passage for our students who have already dedicated their lives to the care of others. I am honored by my part in being able to help them enter this profession and become outstanding medical doctors,” said Dr. Wales.

“This is indeed a proud day for WAUSM – one of many such milestones,” said Mr. Goetz.



Watch the full ceremony and see other WAUSM videos on our YouTube channel!