2019 White Coat Ceremony welcomes 277 first-year students to the pharmacy profession

The University of Florida College of Pharmacy presented 277 first-year Pharm.D. students with their white coats on April 13 in Gainesville. During the White Coat Ceremony, Dean and Distinguished Professor Julie Johnson, Pharm.D., and college leaders commended the students for their achievement thus far, while entrusting them with a greater commitment as they pursue their pharmacy degree.

“The white coat is symbolic of the highest ideals of the practice of pharmacy, and it is worn with pride as Pharm.D. students progress through the curriculum,” Johnson said.

Students pose after receiving white coats

The ceremony 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.

John A. Armitstead, M.S., R.Ph., FASHP, the system director of pharmacy services at Lee Health, delivered the keynote address. He encouraged students to excel as they continue their journey through the rigorous curriculum. “During the next several years of your studies, you will question your preparedness. Doubt is a marker of intelligence and emotional sophistication,” he said. “It is the hallmark of an inquisitive mind. Rest assured that we are confident in you, as are your family and your friends, and we are supportive of you in this journey.”

During his 40 years as a pharmacist, Armitstead has learned the importance of making complex topics appear simple and general topics, specific for patients. Armitstead concluded his remarks by reminding students that their learning does not end with the Pharm.D. curriculum. He encouraged them to develop a continuous professional development plan because drug therapy continually advances.

Student receives her white coat
Clinical Associate Professor Sven Normann,’81, Pharm.D., pictured left, and Anthony Allegretta, Pharm.D., ’06, from WellCare, present a white coat to first-year student Tychell Branchcomb.

Jack Guerci, a Pharm.D./M.B.A. student entering his last year of the pharmacy program, also spoke at the ceremony. He addressed the knowledge and power that comes with being a pharmacist and wearing the white coat, and how patients can be empowered. “Utilize the power of your white coat to accomplish your professional goals, to influence patient care in your own individualized way,” he said. “And give some of that power away to your patients.”

Following Guerci’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 recited the class creed that demonstrated their commitment to serving patients and loyalty to the profession.

WellCare served as the corporate sponsor for the 2019 White Coat Ceremony.

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