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Class of ’21 joins ranks of pharmacy at White Coat Ceremony
By Grant Burningham / Wed Oct 18, 2017
For the UCSF doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) Class of 2021, October 13 was the day they officially entered the profession. In a ceremony on the Parnassus campus, each student donned a white coat, a symbol of health care professionals for more than 100 years.
“Today marks your transition from lay person to full-fledged professional,” Dean B. Joseph Guglielmo, PharmD, told the incoming class. “You’re in a program that prepares you to ask questions, to think critically, to solve problems—to think scientifically,” Guglielmo told students. “We expect you to question us—we expect you to question everything.”
The class was addressed by Assistant Surgeon General Rear Admiral Pamela Schweitzer, PharmD ’87, who currently serves as the chief pharmacy officer in the United States Public Health Service. Schweitzer’s distinguished career has included positions in the Indian Health Service and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. During an active and demanding career, she still found the time for family and recreation, raising two daughters and running marathons, flying airplanes and climbing mountains.
Schweitzer emphasized the duty of being a pharmacist and challenged the Class of 2021 to address the needs of the underserved. “Any time you put the white coat on, it inspires authority and trust,” she said. “When you wear it you will stand up straighter.”
Student speaker Ana Cruz, Class of 2018, shared her experiences both of learning the new profession and of becoming a campus advocate for undocumented graduate and professional students.
This year’s ceremony included another special guest. A few months ago, Vice Dean Sharon L. Youmans, PharmD, MPH, received a letter from a UCSF School of Pharmacy graduate who was worried about his degree. John R. Kenny, Jr., earned his bachelor of science degree from UCSF in 1943, before the School offered a PharmD. Now, at age 95, he wanted to return to his alma mater and upgrade his degree.
Kenny was joined by his family, who traveled from across the country to watch him receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from Guglielmo, in a building that didn’t exist when Kenny attended UCSF. This year’s class will graduate in the year Kenny turns 99.
The newly coated members of the Class of 2021 stood, faced the audience of gathered family and friends, and formally took the Oath of a Pharmacist, administered by Lisa Kroon, PharmD, chair of the Department of Clinical Pharmacy. In unison, they promised to “consider the welfare of humanity and relief of suffering my primary concerns” and to devote themselves to “a lifetime of service to others through the profession of pharmacy.”
Guglielmo closed the ceremony by saying, “On behalf of the entire school, we are deeply honored to partner with you as we, together, shape the profession of pharmacy and health care.”
About the School: The UCSF School of Pharmacy aims to solve the most pressing health care problems and strives to ensure that each patient receives the safest, most effective treatments. Our discoveries seed the development of novel therapies, and our researchers consistently lead the nation in NIH funding. The School’s doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) degree program, with its unique emphasis on scientific thinking, prepares students to be critical thinkers and leaders in their field.