White Coat Ceremony Marks Pivotal Transition for Duke Doctor of Physical Therapy Students


The Duke Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) program held the White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2025 in Duke Chapel on June 4. The celebration marked the end of didactic work and the transition to third-year clinical experiences for the 96 students.

Friends and family filled nearly every row in the vast chapel, and hundreds more joined them on the livestream as Justin Moore, PT, DPT, and CEO of the American Physical Therapy Association, shared an inspiring keynote address. He commended parents for their role in preparing their children to begin the program and the Duke DPT faculty for taking the baton from there. 

“You have been influenced by a faculty that is among, if not the best, in all of the profession,” Dr. Moore said. “They have created an incubator for your development; now, you will leave with an expectation to continue this legacy of impact.”

Justin Moore, APTA CEO, speaking to Duke Doctor of Physical Therapy Students

He encouraged the students to blaze their trails and embrace uncharted professional territory. “You are the generation that will push us forward and create new pathways of innovation in physical therapy.”

Team-based learning is a foundational component of the Duke DPT program curriculum; as a result, students processed across the stage to receive their white coats along with the members of their learning team. Each team’s faculty advisor helped the students don their new white coats.

a Duke Doctor of Physical Therapy student team in their white coats with their faculty advisor

After each student received their coat, W. Todd Cade, PT, PhD, FAPTA, DPT division chief, shared some of his own experience as a newly-minted physical therapist, excited to put his skills into practice. “Rest assured, you’re prepared for this … You’ve worked hard for two years to get where you are now. You’re entering a fantastic, rewarding profession where you get to make a difference, every day, in people’s lives.”

“We’ll miss you,” Dr. Cade said in closing remarks. “It’s been a privilege to get to know you and watch you grow as an individual and a class.”

Watch a replay of the ceremony.

Duke DPT students with friends and family