White Coat Ceremony Marks the Beginning for 120 Students

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The School of Pharmacy and the UCSF Pharmacy Alumni Association welcomed 120 first-year students of the Class of 2017 into the profession of pharmacy at the 12th annual White Coat Ceremony. 

Students, faculty, staff, alumni, family, and friends gathered in Cole Hall on October 11, to mark this occasion, which was first celebrated in 2001.  To date, more than 1,300 student pharmacists have participated in the ceremony, which honors the students’ decision to become a health care professional.

After the customary processional of the first-year class, School of Pharmacy Dean B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, offered opening remarks.  He spoke of a recent landmark in the profession, the signing of Senate Bill 493 into law, which gives pharmacists the status of health care providers, and the impact this legislation will have on the future of pharmacy and the graduates of UCSF. 

Vice Dean Sharon Youmans, PharmD, MPH (’85) and fourth-year student pharmacist Ryan Beechinor (’14) offered personal reflections on becoming a pharmacist. 

Dr. Youmans spoke of the risks we take for change to happen and both the opportunities and challenges associated with change.  She noted that change “keeps you thinking pro-actively instead of reactively” and called on the student pharmacists to “become advocates for our patients, the profession, and for change,” in a nation where access to quality health care and medications can still prove  to be a challenge.

Student speaker Ryan Beechinor offered a unique and refreshing outlook on “learning in the negative space.” 

“Some of the most important learning experiences you will have will come from your mistakes,” Beechinor said, as he asked the Class of 2017 to be courageous in asking questions and finding answers.

Beechinor commented on a personal connection to the Class of 2017: He served as a student representative on the Admissions and Executive Committees that drafted the final list of acceptances.

After the first-year students had been formally dressed in their white coats by the School of Pharmacy faculty and alumni, Lisa Kroon, PharmD, Chair of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy, led the student pharmacists in reading the Oath of a Pharmacist in unison, before their family and friends.

The School of Pharmacy’s Class of 2017 is truly diverse. Fifteen US states and territories and 13 countries are represented, and over 25 of the students were born outside the United States.  In addition to traditional science majors, the class includes students with majors in business, communication, education, history and music.