By Alexus Brock
Assistant News Editor
The long anticipated White Coat ceremony has been a part of Union University’s tradition since August 2008 when organizers welcomed 45 students – members of the inaugural class of the School of Pharmacy — into the program.
Today, not only does the ceremony welcome pharmacy students, it also welcomes all medical students into their rightful schools of choice and presents them with a symbol of their future profession through the issuing of white coats.
“Pharmacy is a profession, so the whole idea of the White Coat Ceremony is that they are entering into a profession, and the expectation is from then on to act professionally, with practice as a professional,” said George DeMaagd, associate dean of the School of Pharmacy. “It is symbolic to the profession but also shows their families that we are serious about our program and to make it one of the best in the country.”
This year’s ceremony took place Aug. 22 in the G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel.
“The exciting factor of the ceremony is actually physically holding a representation of what you’ve worked so hard to get,” said Kayla Hardin, junior nursing student, after receiving her white coat and attending her orientation for the School of Nursing. “I can understand that feeling being a nursing student and a part of a program where you actually feel complete when you put on the coat and can say, ‘I’m on my way.’”
Another tradition among those who attend the ceremony is the official Union University dedication and blessing, which was bestowed on the School of Pharmacy Class of 2016 and all medical schools present.
“It was encouraging to listen to the faculty expressing their passion behind the upcoming school year and what lies in the future,” said Kaitlin Watson, junior nursing major, who attended the ceremony to support others. “Union definitely has amazing staff, and it makes me proud to be here because of it.”
Dr. Sheila L. Mitchell, founding dean of the School of Pharmacy, welcomed family and friends, and Dr. Kent Stoneking, chairman of pharmacy practice, delivered a compelling story that complimented the old saying, “Never give in or give up.”
Dr. David S. Dockery gave the official blessing and, as part of the ceremony, students recited the pharmacist oath, which states: “At this time, I vow to devote my professional life to the service of all humankind through the profession of pharmacy. I will consider the welfare of humanity and relief of human suffering my primary concerns.
“I will apply my knowledge, experience, and skills to the best of my ability to assure optimal drug therapy outcomes for the patients I serve. I will keep abreast of developments and maintain professional competency in my profession of pharmacy.
“I will maintain the highest principles of moral, ethical, and legal conduct. I will embrace and advocate change in the profession of pharmacy that improves patient care. I take these vows voluntarily with the full realization of the responsibility with which I am entrusted by the public.”