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Geisinger becomes the first member of Risant Health

Lauren Nicholls, M.D., delivers the Dr. Lester Saidman Memorial Lecture

Scranton – Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine held its 14th annual White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2026 on Friday, Aug. 6, at the Scranton Cultural Center.

The Class of 2026’s 116 future doctors participated in a ceremony, held in common with virtually every other medical school in the nation, designed to welcome new medical students into the profession. Students recited an oath acknowledging their responsibilities as future physicians and their obligations to future patients. Then they were cloaked with the white coat — the mantle of the medical profession. White coats were provided by The Stanley J. Dudrick, M.D., and Alan G. Goldstein Endowed Fund.

At the ceremony, Geisinger Commonwealth’s president and dean, Julie Byerley, M.D., M.P.H., reminded the students that despite the pace of change and the wonders of new technology, “What needs to remain constant through, or even despite, all of this is your relationship with the patient.” Dr. Byerley urged the Class of 2026 to remember to their White Coat ceremony oath throughout their education and their careers to keep their relationship with the patient central to their identities as physicians.

Lauren Nicholls, M.D., presented the Dr. Lester Saidman Memorial Lecture, named in honor of the respected physician and educator from Luzerne County. Dr. Nicholls is an attending physician at Geisinger Community Medical Center in Scranton and practices palliative medicine across the lifespan, from perinatal to adult. The Class of 2022 chose Dr. Nicholls as the recipient of the School of Medicine’s Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award for her continued focus on the human experience of her palliative and hospice care patients, as well her ability to recognize and discuss the clinical struggles in providing care. 
After the White Coat ceremony, a reception immediately followed in the lobby of Geisinger Commonwealth’s Medical Sciences Building, at 525 Pine St. in Scranton.

Local students receiving white coats were:

Emily Lynn Allen, Scott Township
Hannah Baker Anderson, Danville
Marena S. Casey, Scranton
Anant Chopra, New Tripoli
Adam David Cole, Winfield
Kristen Mary Denniston, Lords Valley
Nitya Deshmukh, Sayre
Grace M. Dibileo, Scranton
Maria Figueroa, Lewisburg
Alexandra N. Geyfman, Scranton
Robert H. Han, Lewisburg
Emily Harasym, Factoryville
Nicholas R. Haynes, Susquehanna
Raeva Mulloth, Clarks Summit
Abigail B. Norwillo, Duryea
Arpitha Pamula, Sayre
Alivia L. Roberts, Hazleton
Emily Olivia Scott, Nanticoke
Christina L. Shaffern, Scranton
Maria S. Shaw, Wyalusing
Jennifer Alice Simmons, Scranton
Gina Lee Tallo, Dunmore
Jason Tinsley, Waverly Township
Vinoshi Weerakkody, Macungie
Lauren A. Yocum, Bloomsburg
Alexandra R. Yudiski, Old Forge


About Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine (GCSOM) is a member of the Geisinger family. GCSOM offers a community-based model of medical education with campuses in Danville, Lewistown, Scranton, Sayre and Wilkes-Barre. Geisinger Commonwealth offers Doctor of Medicine (MD) and a portfolio of graduate degrees. The school’s innovative curriculum, focused on caring for people in the context of their lives and their community, attracts the next generation of physicians and scientists from within its region, as well as from across the state and the nation. Geisinger Commonwealth is committed to non-discrimination in all employment and educational opportunities. Visit

Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine logo

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