A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

UK College of Medicine at NKU welcomes its fourth class of medical students with white coat ceremony

By Audrey Kirby O’Gara
UK College of Medicine

Jade Nicely has a passion for scientific discovery and loves working with people. The natural convergence of these two interests was training to become a physician. It’s a career that will allow her to work with patients every day and help improve their health.

She begins the journey as a first-year medical student at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine-Northern Kentucky Campus.

The campus welcomed its fourth class, including Nicely and 34 other students, during its white coat ceremony last week. The Gold Foundation started this annual tradition in 1993 as a way to emphasize compassionate, patient-centered care from the moment medical students begin their training. Students are coated by faculty and then simultaneously recite a pledge of professionalism “to always serve the best interests of our patients.”

The new white coat class

This year, the event was momentous for the UK College of Medicine-Northern Kentucky Campus and its community partners, St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Northern Kentucky University. With a fourth class of medical students, the campus is well positioned to help address Kentucky’s physician shortage, which it was established in 2019 to do.

“When the Northern Kentucky Campus opened its doors, we already had the UK College of Medicine’s exceptional curriculum as a solid foundation on which to train more future physicians in Kentucky, for Kentucky,” said Steven Haist, MD, MS, associate dean for the Northern Kentucky Campus. “The physician community in Northern Kentucky and St. Elizabeth Healthcare has been so supportive and willing to help in any way to assure our success.”

When Nicely was applying for medical schools, she was drawn to the UK College of Medicine-Northern Kentucky Campus for its small class sizes, its partnership with a leading hospital system and university, and its familiarity. She grew up in the Northern Kentucky area and closely followed the development of the UK College of Medicine’s regional site.

“It’s special. It’s unique. You’re helping start something that Northern Kentucky hasn’t had in the past,” she said.

Nicely has long been invested in her dream of becoming a doctor. She shadowed doctors at the pediatrician’s office where her mother works.

Then she earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Kentucky in Lexington. At Wild Health in Lexington, she gained research experience investigating the efficacy of ketamine therapy in mental health treatments. She also spent time as a lab technician at a COVID-19 testing facility.

Nicely said that now, she is excited to get into “the clinical side of things.” She will pursue medical school with the generous support of the inaugural Biz and Jackie Cain Family Medical Scholarship Endowment so she can follow her passions of scientific discovery and collaborative patient care.

After welcoming its fourth class, the Northern Kentucky Campus will celebrate another pair of milestones next spring – its first Match Day and graduation to commemorate its inaugural class.

Dr. Haist said guidance from the UK College of Medicine-Bowling Green Campus, which reached this milestone in spring 2022, has been “an immense help.”

“Our team would like to congratulate the Bowling Green Campus, Associate Dean Dr. Todd Cheever, and the rest of the Bowling Green Campus faculty and staff on graduating their first class of medical students,” Dr. Haist said. “We look forward to that opportunity next spring.”

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