The University of Florida College of Pharmacy celebrated the white coating of more than 270 first-year Pharm.D. students April 7 in Gainesville. The White Coat Ceremony commended the students for their achievement thus far, while entrusting them with a greater commitment as they took the pledge of professionalism.
The white coat presentation is a time-honored college tradition that recognizes students’ progression through their first year of the rigorous academic and professional pharmacy program. UF was among the first pharmacy colleges in the nation to hold such a ceremony nearly 20 years ago.
Lucinda Maine, Ph.D., the executive vice president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, delivered the keynote address. She spoke of the innovative changes that have occurred during her pharmacy career: ibuprofen went from a prescription medication to a widely available over-the-counter and an HIV diagnosis went from a death sentence to a treatable disease with which people can live productive lives.
Maine identified artificial intelligence, or AI, as the next big disruptor in health care innovation. She said AI will make medication use safer and improve adherence.
But even as AI gains importance, Maine says it’s important not to forget about the original AI: “authentic interactions.” As pharmacists authentically engage with patients, they’ll be better able to educate them and their caregivers to help them live more productive lives.
Lea Gaber, a fourth-year pharmacy student, spoke about the effect the white coat has on people. She said the white coat gives confidence to patients and fellow caregivers that their pharmacist is knowledgeable and someone they can trust.
Following Gaber’s remarks, students from UF’s three pharmacy campuses in Gainesville, Jacksonville and Orlando received their white coats. A faculty member, or donor who helped fund the purchase, coated each student. After the coating, the students collectively participated in a pledge of professionalism that demonstrated their commitment to serving patients and loyalty to the profession.
Julie Johnson, Pharm.D., dean and distinguished professor in the UF College of Pharmacy, commented on the transformation that took place in the room. “It is quite amazing to be able to sit on this stage and watch the middle of the auditorium transform to a sea of white coats — unified in your goals to make a difference,” she said. “I trust you will always remember this ceremony and just what the coat symbolizes to you as a professional and to the patients you will serve in your career.”
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