Congratulations to the School of Pharmacy Graduates

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Last Thursday, beloved families, friends and faculty joined 123 Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) graduates at Davies Symphony Hall in an event we had all been anxiously waiting for—the UCSF School of Pharmacy Commencement Ceremony.

Dean B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, known to the Class of 2014 as “Dean Joe,” opened the ceremony with a warm welcome speech. As he read aloud a few excerpts from our entrance essays, those written just four years ago about our challenges, hopes, dreams and the kind of pharmacists we were all inspired to become, we couldn’t help but think to ourselves: “Four years have flown by in the blink of an eye! It is hard to believe, but we finally did it!”

Ryan Beechinor and Gary Lau, our elected student speakers, delivered two personal reflection speeches on their experiences as student pharmacists at UCSF as well as their perspectives on the future of pharmacy. These reflections highlighted the qualities that make up the unique student body at the UCSF School of Pharmacy: diverse, authentic, caring, compassionate, innovative, resourceful, talented, hard working and always “think-outside-the-box!”

People outside of the field of pharmacy may not know that for years, the UCSF School of Pharmacy has been considered the top-ranked Doctor of Pharmacy program in the nation. And since there have not been any alien-pharmacists identified up to today, we may safely assume that we are the #1 pharmacy school in the entire Universe.

In 1872, the school was the first to be established in the Western part of the United States and became the first Doctor of Pharmacy program to train pharmacists to become specialized clinical pharmacists. Since then, our program has been committed to providing a high quality education, innovative research and excellent patient care.

So, you might wonder: “What have the Class of 2014 PharmD graduates accomplished in the past four years to live up to this reputation?”

We are proud to say that not only have we been able to serve and make an impact on the UCSF campus, we have also expanded the scope of our experiences to the local, national and global levels. Since our first year being student pharmacists, we have assumed the roles of medicine specialists through a wide variety of activities. Through several health projects, we spent our weekends in the community educating our pediatric, adult and geriatric patients about the appropriate use of medications and their associated side effects.

Furthermore, we provided vaccinations, disease and lifestyle information and advice on how to save costs on medications to the public. We served as mentors to high school, undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students because we believe it is our responsibility to prepare the next generation of pharmacists. We traveled internationally to learn and participate in advanced pharmacy practice experiences in countries around the world: Honduras, Switzerland, England, Korea, Taiwan, Kenya, Uganda, Haiti and India.

Academically, at UCSF, we conducted research projects that spanned the field of pharmaceutical sciences, health services and policy and direct patient care. We were also firm believers in sharing our drug expertise with health professionals outside of the School of Pharmacy. We did so by collaborating with medical, nursing, physical therapy, dentistry and biomedical graduate students in interprofessional education activities, projects and seminars. Of course, these are just a few highlights on the tremendous accomplishments our graduates have been able to achieve.

In the final commencement address of the ceremony, Dr. Michael L. Lim, PharmD, MBA, Class of 1999, urged this year’s PharmD graduates to never stop learning and always attempt to break down silos. Doing exactly that, many graduates from the Class of 2014 will become practicing pharmacists in the community settings, while a majority of others will pursue post-graduate training programs around the nation in the following areas: advanced pharmacy practice in acute, ambulatory, and managed care settings, research fellowships, as well as commercial fellowships. We could not be more proud of the PharmD Graduates, Class of 2014 and cannot wait to see what the future of pharmacy will be in the hands of these graduates.

My dearest pharmacist, mentor and educator Dr. Tina Brock used to quote the American writer Flanner O’Connor: “When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal means of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock—to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures.”

These 123 pharmacists are ready to shock, shout, and draw large and starling figures wherever we may be practicing… so watch out world!

This article is dedicated to the PharmD graduates from the Class of 2014, our Families, Friends, Faculties, Mentors and most of all, our patients.