News @ VCU School of Pharmacy
White Coat Ceremony officially recognizes class of '16
VCU School of Pharmacy’s White Coat Ceremonies can claim a rather exciting history, meteorologically speaking. Just last year, Hurricane Irene was flinging itself up the coast with heavy rain and 60 mph wind gusts as the school’s first-year students accepted their white coats.
This year, with weather reports breathless over Hurricane Isaac, Dean Victor Yanchick said, “I am holding my breath!”
But the 140 members of the class of 2016 emerged unscathed as they made their first formal and public commitment to their new chosen profession. About 800 first-year students, friends, family members, faculty and student leaders were in attendance.
SOP alumna Ashley Savage (Pharm.D. ’12) represented Farm Fresh Pharmacies, which helped support the 2012 White Coat Ceremony. She encouraged the class of ’16 to reach for unique opportunities, take on personal and professional challenges and embrace the changes that will come.
Rafael Saenz offered new students advice
based on his own experience.
He earned his Pharm.D. in 2003.
/ Photo by Cabay-Fine Photography.
Rafael Saenz, administrator of pharmacy services for the University of Virginia Health System and assistant dean for the School of Pharmacy’s new U.Va. Division, delivered remarks. As a first-year student himself in 1999, he said, ”I was scared when I arrived!” It wasn’t long, he said, before he realized School of Pharmacy faculty are committed to helping students become competent, successful pharmacists.
The coat will get dirty, he said, and there’s no telling what you’ll find in the pockets. “But this coat is a symbol of the healing arts, of your commitment to patients.” As the profession evolves, Saenz said, specialty-trained pharmacists will be more in demand. “It’s never too early to look at residencies.”
He suggested that students keep growing and challenge themselves if they are looking for a career, not just a job.
“The sky’s the limit in this field,” Saenz said. “Pharmacists are well-positioned to go anywhere. … No one is in a better position to affect patient outcomes.”
No project should be too small, he said. Volunteering is important, particularly in the professional organizations. Be a leader, he advised, in class, in organizations, in the practice. Build a network, educate and advocate.
“Put your patients first. Have fun, especially in your third year … it is awesome.”
Yanchick underlined Saenz’s comments by saying that each fiber of a student’s white coat should be woven with integrity and high ethical standards. “The coat itself can’t protect you. But a professional education and integrity can.
“The lines of responsibility between health professionals are becoming increasingly blurred,” he said. “You can change the practice.” Echoing Saenz’s sentiments, he said, “Wear your coat with enthusiasm and excitement. Enjoy!”
Tom Reinders, associate dean for admissions and student services, presented the students, and student body president Corey Estoll administered the pharmacy student oath,