White Coat Ceremony celebrates first-year pharmacy students’ entry into profession

Members of the class of 2019 receive their white coats during the April 2 ceremony.

The University of Florida College of Pharmacy symbolically welcomed 229 first-year pharmacy students into the profession at the college’s White Coat Ceremony on April 2. Held at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, the ceremony featured the traditional presentation of the white coat to mark a rite of passage for a pharmacy student into a professional role.

Students from UF’s three pharmacy campuses in Gainesville, Jacksonville and Orlando participated in the ceremony. Each student was recognized and coated by a faculty member or donor who helped fund the coat purchase. Following the coating, each student participated in a pledge of professionalism that demonstrated their commitment to serving patients and a loyalty to the pharmacy profession.

“The University of Florida College of Pharmacy was one of the first schools in the country to host a White Coat Ceremony,” said Julie Johnson, Pharm.D., dean and distinguished professor of the College of Pharmacy, to the audience of students and their family, friends and supporters. “The white coat symbolizes the highest ideals of pharmacy and is your reward for completing the first professional year in the pharmacy program.”

Leslie Hendeles, Pharm.D., professor of pharmacotherapy and translational research at the College of Pharmacy and professor of pediatrics at the College of Medicine, provided the keynote address. He is retiring in June following a 36-year career at the University of Florida.

“This is a great time to become a pharmacist, with so many options and opportunities that never existed before,” Hendeles said.

Hendeles recounted the dramatic changes that have altered the pharmacy profession during his career, including exciting new opportunities in pharmacogenomics, research, community pharmacy and hospital pharmacy roles. He left the students with a simple request.

“Wear your white coats proudly and remember that you will be able to make a difference,” Hendeles said.

Megan Morgan, a fourth-year pharmacy student from the Jacksonville campus, also addressed the class of 2019, reminding them to remain focused on why they chose pharmacy school.

“There are a lot of challenges on a daily basis,” Morgan said. “In the toughest moments, rely on what motivates you and gives you purpose.”

To view pictures from the event, visit: https://ufcollegeofpharmacy.smugmug.com/White-Coat-Ceremony-2016.