September 10, 2018

College of Pharmacy Class of 2022 Dons White Coats

Sept. 10, 2018 | The first year at the College of Pharmacy presents challenges beyond rigorous schoolwork. It begins the process of choosing between multiple career paths in the profession, Melanie Reinhardt, Pharm.D., said Aug. 24 at the White Coat Ceremony for the UAMS College of Pharmacy Class of 2022.

With the assistance of some more senior students, a member of the Class of 2022 is helped on with his coat during the White Coat Ceremony.

With the assistance of some more senior students, a member of the Class of 2022 is helped on with his coat during the White Coat Ceremony.

An assistant professor in the college’s Department of Pharmacy Practice and a recipient of the college’s 2018 Pharmacy Practice Outstanding Faculty Award, Reinhardt was the keynote speaker at the ceremony in which freshmen don white coats signifying their transition into the life of a student-pharmacist.

She said during the next few years of pursuing a doctorate in pharmacy, students will have the chance to follow the examples of faculty who are conducting research developing new medical treatments, working with pediatric patients or patients with HIV, working at a poison control  center as a toxicology expert, leading national organizations or teaching nuclear pharmacy.

Melanie Reinhardt, Pharm.D., was the keynote speaker at the ceremony. The College of Pharmacy's other faculty are seated behind her.

Melanie Reinhardt, Pharm.D., was the keynote speaker at the ceremony. The College of Pharmacy’s faculty are seated behind her.

“These individuals all began their careers as P1 students just like you,” Reinhardt said. “I used their stories to illustrate just a few of the opportunities available to you. They set goals, they worked hard and they were successful. I ask you. What will your white coat mean to you?”

To her, she said the white coat means always striving for excellence, whether caring for patients or teaching pharmaceutical calculations.

“It means staying late when a patient brings in seven prescriptions from the Emergency Room five minutes before closing,” Reinhardt said. “It means helping the mother who went from pharmacy to pharmacy to get the pain medication for her baby. It means helping that elderly patient understand why they need to take their medication. It means contacting a doctor to get a prescription changed when the insurance doesn’t cover the medication prescribed. Most importantly, it means caring for a patient like you would a family member. If you keep that in mind, then you will always be successful.”

After Reinhardt spoke, the 86 students in the Class of 2022 one by one walked on stage to put on white coats to mark symbolically the beginning of their four years of study.

“As each of you walks across the stage tonight to receive your white coat, your journey in pharmacy will begin,” College of Pharmacy Dean Keith Olsen, Pharm. D., said. “It’s also a lifelong journey as you’ve now chosen a profession. When I went to pharmacy school, we didn’t have a white coat ceremony, but I wish we did. The white coat represents a rite of passage. The white coat is a symbol of our profession and tremendous responsibilities go with it.”

Before the ceremony, Schwanda Flowers, Pharm.D., explains to students how the event with proceed.

Before the ceremony, Schwanda Flowers, Pharm.D., explains to students how the event with proceed.

Sponsored by the Arkansas Pharmacists Association (APA), it was the college’s 16th annual White Coat Ceremony. Representing the APA at the ceremony was Stephen Carroll, Pharm. D., the association’s president.

About 600 people attended, including college faculty and staff, and friends and family.

Following the keynote address, Cortni Hicks, president of the UAMS American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists UAMS Chapter, led the Class of 2022 in reciting the Student Pledge of Professionalism.

The average grade point average of the incoming class, which includes 29 males and 57 females, was 3.56.