Binghamton University’s School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SOPPS) welcomed 90 students by handing them white coats during a ceremony on Saturday.
The event, held at the Osterhout Concert Theater in the Anderson Center, marked the students’ transition from preclinical studies into clinical studies.
After a violin performance and welcome speeches from Gloria Meredith, founding dean of SOPPS, and University President Harvey Stenger, keynote speaker Milap Nahata took the stage. Nahata is the director for the Institute of Therapeutic Innovations and Outcomes and a professor emeritus of pharmacy, pediatrics and internal medicine at Ohio State University.
William Eggleston, H. Andrew Wilsey and Erin Pauling, clinical assistant professors of pharmacy practice, and Sara Spencer, introductory pharmacy practice experiences coordinator and a clinical instructor of pharmacy practice, presented students with their white coats.
Four second-year SOPPS students, who received their white coats last year, performed the Passing of the Light of Knowledge ceremony, where they passed candles to the new students. Julia Napoli, who took two years of prerequisite courses at BU before making the transition, said being chosen for the ceremony was an honor.
“Passing the light was a very humbling experience for me, as it feels like just yesterday that it was me getting my white coat,” Napoli said. “I remember exactly what it felt like to be standing in their shoes, so eager and excited, while also scared and overwhelmed of the journey I was about to embark on.”
The ceremony ended with students reciting the Oath of a Pharmacist, which speaks to an individual’s application of knowledge for patient care, respect of personal and health information and utilization of skills for pharmaceutical care. The University, Meredith said, allows students to receive their coats and take the oath earlier than most schools, a factor which allows them to begin their clinical work earlier in the school year.
“I hope attendees realize how important it is in a health profession that you make a formal step in front of witnesses that you will do no harm and be ethical in your treatment of patients,” Meredith said. “I think attendees are hoping they will hear that in the oath, as well as the keynote speech.”
Meredith said BU’s unique program helps to prepare its students for the health-related workforce.
“We have a high quality program in which we are making a difference and preparing students to work in health care teams,” Meredith said. “When they graduate, they will have good communication skills, understanding of what other professions do in the health care team and be challenged to work in teams.”
She added that she sees BU’s program as cutting edge, and predicts similar models will become more popular in the future.
“In many ways, we’re taking the lead, preparing students to do things really needed in the workforce in terms of patient care,” Meredith said. “I believe we’re a step ahead. Our motto is that we are reinventing pharmacy education for the next generation.”
Shannon Fitzpatrick, a first-year graduate student studying pharmaceutical sciences, said for her, the ceremony represented the start of her her journey to becoming a successful pharmacist.
“The ceremony was much more than receiving a white coat — it was a symbol of taking the pharmacy oath and devoting a lifetime of service to others through the profession of pharmacy,” Fitzpatrick said. “I hope to establish working relationships with other health care professionals through interprofessional education that will enhance patient care when practicing in the field.”