Healthcare Providers Graduate from PCOM Georgia

Staff Report

Thursday, May 25th, 2023

PCOM Georgia held its annual commencement ceremony on May 23, this year graduating 283 physicians, pharmacists, physical therapists, physician assistants, biomedical scientists and medical laboratory scientists. 

The pomp and circumstance were elevated as students processed into the auditorium to the accompaniment of a bagpipe and snare drum.  The grand ballroom at the Gas South Convention Center was filled with loved ones who witnessed their students crossing the stage to receive their diplomas and hoods. 

Julie Ginn Moretz, the chief experience officer and the assistant vice president of patient- and family- centered health care at the Augusta University Health System, delivered the keynote address. The sister of PCOM Georgia Chief Campus Officer Bryan Ginn, Moretz received the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, as part of the ceremony.

Moretz asked the graduates “what would health care look like if patients designed it?”

Once the self-described scared young mother of a newborn diagnosed with three major life-threatening heart defects, Moretz has worked tirelessly to transform the culture of health care so that the hospital experience is more patient-and family-centered. 

As the first volunteer chair of the Patient/Family Advisory Council at AU Health, Moretz partnered with hospital leaders to develop a nationally recognized patient- and family- centered program which led to a position as a hospital director.

“It’s about keeping patients and families together and including them in the care plan and decision-making process,” she said.

Moretz reminded the students that “words matter. Your patients will memorize the words you say.”

A final lesson Moretz conveyed to the graduates is that “you can’t save everyone but you can always share your passion and compassion.” 

Jay S. Feldstein, DO ’81, president and CEO of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, addressed the graduates. He said, “As you leave here today, you are poised to lead in a world of continuous change. You are empowered to effect change and to grow from it.”

“I encourage you to harness the power of change. Commit to leaving things better than you found them. There is no limit to your capacity for greatness,” he said.

The Honorable James “Jimmy” Burnette, Jr., who serves as the mayor of Suwanee, offered greetings from the city and thanked the graduates for the volunteer service they provided to the community during their years at PCOM Georgia. He noted their participation in health fairs, food banks, Relay for Life activities, and their service during the pandemic to include providing vaccinations and groceries for the vulnerable.

In addition to their volunteer work and academics, many of the students also had active family lives. Provost Kenneth J. Veit, DO ‘76, noted that 39 graduates were engaged while in school, while five became betrothed to a fellow classmate. In addition, 30 students were married during school and class members as a whole have 36 children, of which 20 children were born while their parents were students at PCOM Georgia.

The Class of 2023 is made up of 109 DOs, 76 pharmacists, 39 physical therapists, 30 physician assistants, 27 biomedical scientists and two medical laboratory scientists.

To watch a live stream of the ceremony, click here.