The School of Pharmacy has introduced a new annual event for first-year students. Known as the White Coat Ceremony, it is a formal induction of students into the profession of pharmacy and an acknowledgment of the associated duties and obligations.
“It was a very exciting event for all of us,” said Robert Wiseman, a first-year student who participated in the Jan. 11 event. “From the moment we put our white coats on for the first time, we were expected to be professionals and continue to uphold the reputation that the pharmacists before us have strived to create.”
Julie Thorne also enjoyed the celebration of being accepted into the School of Pharmacy. “I sat through the ceremony soaking up the encouraging comments made by many prominent people in the community and profession, but what made it special for me was knowing that my parents were sitting in the audience beaming with pride. For them, this was their first glimpse at my life as a pharmacy student and it gave us the opportunity to celebrate together.”
Dr. Linda Hensman, director of the School of Pharmacy, had been thinking about starting a white coat ceremony for several years, but the impetus to initiate it this year came from third-year student Nancy Drover, who last year attended a pharmacy student conference in Montreal. At the conference she talked with other student pharmacy representatives and realized that Memorial’s school was among the minority in not having some form of a white coat ceremony.
The white coat ceremony is a relatively new ritual in western universities that marks entrance into professional health schools. White coat ceremonies typically address the issue of professional ethics, and the School of Pharmacy’s ceremony included the recitation of a pledge of professionalism by the students and reading of the Newfoundland and Labrador Pharmacy Board Code of Ethics. Practising pharmacists assisted the students in the donning of their white coats.
Dr. Hensman said it was particularly appropriate to have the first White Coat Ceremony during the School of Pharmacy’s 20th anniversary year. She praised the support from the pharmacy community and the contribution by the Pharmacists’ Association of Newfoundland and Labrador of white coats with logos for the new students.
She noted that the ceremony was one event where students learn what it means to be a professional, how to act as a professional and to make the commitment to be a professional.