White Coat Ceremony Welcomes Class of 2023 to the Professional Program

Published on 17 September 2019

On Friday, Sept. 6, St. Louis College of Pharmacy welcomed 154 student pharmacists into the Doctor of Pharmacy program during its annual White Coat Ceremony. This event marked the class of 2023’s official transition from the undergraduate program into the professional program, with the ceremonial white coats symbolizing the start of their new roles as student pharmacists.

President John A. Pieper, Pharm.D., FCCP, FAPhA, opened the ceremony by welcoming students, faculty and guests and expressing his own pride in the student pharmacists’ accomplishments.

“During this ceremony, you will be asked to reflect on your responsibilities as student pharmacists and commit yourself to this new role,” Pieper explained. “But this is not just a ceremony. It's an opportunity for faculty, staff, family and friends to share your excitement and celebrate with you as you start the next chapter of your lives. I can speak for everyone here when I tell you that we're very proud of everything you've accomplished so far and look forward to your future success.”

Presiding over the ceremony was Bruce Canaday, Pharm.D, FASHP, FAPhA, dean of the School of Pharmacy. Canaday introduced this year’s guest speaker, Eric L. Barker, B.S. ’88, Ph.D., dean and professor of medicinal and molecular pharmacology at Purdue University.

Barker spoke to students and attendees about his experiences at the College and as a pharmacist, noting how transformational and impactful the professional program is as students go from being student pharmacists to practitioners.

“Putting on your white coat is not about making you all the same,” Barker explained. “It is an outward sign of an inward transformation that begins in you tonight. It is an indication of the transformation that takes your individual distinctiveness and brings it to bear on the profession of pharmacy. You will see people in need, and you will be ready to serve with compassion and empathy. Your senses will sharpen, and your communication skills will improve. These changes will make you a better practitioner.” 

Esther Yearam Tak, president of the class of 2023, led the class in reciting the Pledge of Professionalism. Following the pledge, Juan Rodriguez, Ph.D., professor of physics, and Nicole Gattas, Pharm.D., FAPhA, BCPS, director of experiential education and associate professor of pharmacy practice, welcomed students to the stage and presented them with their white coats.

“I was excited to attend this year’s White Coat Ceremony and celebrate this new chapter in my education,” said P1 student Josh Mottet. “I’m looking forward to furthering my studies and working with interdisciplinary teams to provide excellent patient-centered care. This event marked the start of my future as a pharmacist, and I can’t wait to see where the professional program, and my career, will take me.”

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