SOURCE: Western University of Health Sciences

Western University of Health Sciences

July 30, 2011 19:38 ET

COMP-Northwest Welcomes Inaugural Class

LEBANON, OR--(Marketwire - Jul 30, 2011) - COMP-Northwest, the Pacific Northwest campus of Western University of Health Sciences' College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, formally welcomed its inaugural class of 107 students Saturday, July 30, 2011, during Convocation and white coat ceremonies held on the COMP-Northwest campus in Lebanon, Oregon.

Dr. Philip Pumerantz, founding president of WesternU, presided over the ceremonies, which featured a Convocation keynote address by Dr. John Kitzhaber, governor of Oregon, who himself is a former emergency room physician and was the chief author of the Oregon Health Plan.

Gov. Kitzhaber told COMP-Northwest's inaugural class that he applauded their decision to join the ranks of the nation's healers, but that many challenges lie ahead for them, not least the U.S. health-care system itself. "Our current system is designed for sick care, not preventative care," he said. "This system that we have today, that you have decided to join... is simply not sustainable."

Gov. Kitzhaber said that in an era when primary care physician shortages loom throughout Oregon, the Northwest and all of the U.S., a new focus is needed to prioritize care, ensuring that basic health-care needs are met for everyone with the best level of quality possible. "COMP-Northwest is going to go a long way toward helping meet this crisis.

"But the real work goes beyond your academic training," Kitzhaber concluded. "Absolutely nothing has shaken my conviction that individuals... have the capacity to change the world. I urge you to engage in this larger effort to transform the U.S. health care system. Why not you? Why not us? Why not here? Why not now?"

The governor's address was followed by WesternU's traditional white coat ceremony, presided over by Clinton Adams, DO, MPA, FAAFP, dean of the College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, with a keynote address by Karen Nichols, DO, dean of the Midwestern University Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and Immediate Past President of the American Osteopathic Association. COMP-Northwest's first class was called to the stage, and each student was coated by a member of the faculty in a symbol not only of their entry into the health professions, but of the academic and personal support they will receive while at the University.

The coating was followed by the DO's Pledge of Commitment, recited by the students and led by Alan Bates, DO, an Oregon state senator. COMP-Northwest Founders Medals then were awarded to several individuals and organizations critical to COMP-Northwest's establishment.

COMP-Northwest's class of 107 students is made up of 57 men and 50 women, with nearly 70 percent of them hailing from the Pacific Northwest. The students' average age is 28; 77 of them have research backgrounds; the majority of their undergraduate degrees are in chemistry, biology or microbiology; three are veterans of Afghanistan or Iraq; and three already hold PhDs.

The Convocation and white coat ceremonies followed several days of orientation activities on the COMP-Northwest campus, including a reception for parents, the President's Ice Cream Social, and a black-tie dinner and building dedication that included the unveiling of Pumerantz Plaza, the area in front of the COMP-Northwest facility named in honor of Dr. Pumerantz, the University's president.

About Western University of Health Sciences

Western University of Health Sciences (, located in Pomona, Calif., is an independent nonprofit health professions university, conferring degrees in biomedical sciences, dental medicine, health sciences, nursing, optometry, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, physician assistant studies, podiatric medicine and veterinary medicine.

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