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Cumberland Medical Center Welcomes LMU-DCOM Class with White Coat Ceremony

Posted on August 20, 2021

Cumberland Medical Center recently participated in Covenant Health’s “white coat ceremony” at the Knoxville Convention Center for medical students from Lincoln Memorial University – DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine (LMU-DCOM). The ceremony serves as a way to welcome the next generation of physicians.

Sitting front row left to right: Amber Levi, Ashley Strube, Aashka Patel, Marissa Coutinho, and Sophia Ahmed. Standing second row: Virginia Parker, Taylor Mayes, Tori Coble, and Dr. John Lewis. Stand back row: Joseph Ruggiero, Maxwell Ward, Kevin Kleine, and Milad Mafi.

Cumberland Medical Center first opened its doors to medical students of LMU-DCOM in 2009. Covenant Health expanded this partnership in 2016 so medical students would have more opportunities for hands-on experience during their clinical rotations. Here, they are able to interview and examine patients, review clinical information, make hospital rounds, participate in interdisciplinary team meetings, practice appropriate documentation and perform procedures. They carry out their duties under the direct supervision of physicians.

Cumberland Medical Center Chief Administrative Officer David Bunch shares, “Our relationship with LMU is very meaningful. Not only does our medical staff enjoy being a part of their education, but also the camaraderie that grows from their experiences. Over the years, we have been able to witness several of these students return after graduation to practice in our community. Dr. John Lewis with Crossville Medical Group, Dr. Darren Barton with Cumberland Orthopedics, and Dr. Lauren Fox-Bergvin with Plateau Pediatrics have shared this experience.”  

Under the direct supervision of physicians, a total of 39 medical students will interview and examine patients, review clinical information, make hospital rounds, participate in interdisciplinary team meetings, practice appropriate documentation and perform procedures. Other core rotation sites for the program are Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge and Morristown-Hamblen Healthcare System in Morristown, all members of Covenant Health.

Each student beginning clinical training at a Covenant Health organization received a personalized coat presented by Covenant Health Chief Medical Officer Mark Browne, MD. The coat represents a bridge between medical school and the new experience of rigorous work in a clinical atmosphere.

“This path requires courage and heart, it requires passion and commitment and it requires faith,” said Debby Saraceni, Covenant Health vice president of marketing and physician services. “Most of all, this path requires conviction to advocate for what you know is right. Step out there and make a difference.”

“You’re going to be working with real patients and you will be working with people who are going to be your colleagues,” said Christopher Loyke, DO, dean and CAO of LMU-DCOM. “I think a system like Covenant Health, with its emphasis on service, education and meeting the needs of the underserved, is a perfect fit for a partnership with LMU.”

Pete DeBusk, LMU chairman of the Board of Trustees and co-founder of LMU-DCOM, assured the students that rewarding experiences are ahead.

“This is a special partnership,” DeBusk said. “It’s a special area with special people and lots of good rotations. You’re very fortunate.” DeBusk also shared the history of LMU-DCOM, expressed his personal interest in the students and his hope that after graduation they might continue to provide care to East Tennesseans.

Doug Campbell, general counsel for Covenant Health, challenged the future physicians to live up to mutual standards of excellence and service.

“Covenant Health and LMU have a shared vision of excellence, a passion for quality, a culture of teaching and learning, and a promise of service to the community,” Campbell said. “It’s what our patients and communities expect and what our patients and communities deserve.”

The students will graduate from the clinical program in 2023.


Cumberland Medical Center 2021-2022 LMU-DCOM Student Roster includes:

Sophia Ahmed of Galena, Illinois from Butler University

Tori Coble of Hohenwald with University of Tennessee – Chattanooga

Marissa Coutinho of West Terre Haute, Indiana from Transylvania University

Kevin Kleine of Apple Valley, California from California State University – San Bernardino

Amber Levi of Dayton graduate of Bryan College

Milad Mafi of Buffalo, New York with University at Buffalo

Taylor Mayes of Knoxville with University of the Cumberlands

Virginia Parker from Orlando and University of Central Florida

Aashka Patel from Atlanta and Georgia State University

Joseph Ruggiero from Holbrook, New York and Suny – Oswego

Ashley Strube from Fergus Falls, Minnesota and Minnesota State University – Moorhead

Maxwell Ward of Knoxville and University of Tennessee – Knoxville

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