Later this afternoon in Lebanon, the 105 students in the third class at the COMP-Northwest medical school will don, for the first time, the white medical coats that mark the start of their educational adventure.
The white-coat ceremony is a red-letter day, of course, for the students.
But it’s a big day for Lebanon – and for the mid-valley as well.
To our eyes, COMP-Northwest (as a reminder, COMP stands for College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific) has been a real asset to the mid-valley, since even before the school threw open its doors to its first class in 2011.
The school has been embraced by Lebanon and its residents.
And COMP-Northwest has been a wonderful neighbor to Lebanon and the mid-valley. From the very first, the school and its administrators have sought out opportunities to get involved in the community.
Its students have followed suit, volunteering early and often throughout the community. (Considering the academic load carried by medical students, we frankly were astonished to learn about the scope and amount of this volunteer work.)
In a couple of years, the students from COMP-Northwest’s first class will graduate. The hope, of course, is that many of those new doctors will stay close to the mid-valley, helping to fill the area’s increasing need for health services.
That was part of the reason why Samaritan Health Services officials – in particular, Samaritan CEO Larry Mullins – made such a push to lure a medical school to the mid-valley in the first place.
And if that was the only benefit the mid-valley received from COMP-Northwest, that would be more than enough.
But to paraphrase that old song by The Lovin’ Spoonful, “You Didn’t Have to be So Nice,” we couldn’t have known at the time that COMP-Northwest would prove to be such an excellent partner and neighbor. That’s been a big bonus.
One of the signature events sponsored by the school is an annual day during which kindergarten students get a chance to play doctor. For some of those students, maybe that day plants the seed that eventually leads to a medical career.
Who knows? Twenty or so years down the road, at a ceremony on another August day in Lebanon, perhaps one of those kindergarten students will get her first opportunity to try on her own white coat. Judging by everything that’s happened so far, we’re pretty sure it will fit just right. (mm)