KGI white coat 2015

KGI Celebrates 2nd Annual White Coat Ceremony

Seventy-seven students received their White Coats at a formal ceremony recognizing them as members of the 2nd class of the KGI School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences and as members of the pharmacy profession on Saturday, August 22. Symbolizing dedication to clinical service and patient care, the White Coat Ceremony is held every year when new students first enter into KGI’s PharmD program. During the ceremony, each student was given a White Coat by colleagues already in the profession, signifying the beginning of the student’s career. This year the ceremony was held at the University Theatre, at Cal Poly Pomona in Pomona, California.

Opening the ceremony, KGI President Sheldon Schuster welcomed the Class of 2019 into the profession and into the KGI community. This was followed by the national anthem, sung by class of 2018 PharmD student Thuy-Vi Nguyen and the invocation led by Father Joe Fenton from the office of the Chaplains, Claremont University Consortium.

In speaking to this second School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences class KGI, President Schuster said, “Pharmacy in my view is a scientific part of medicine, so it is a special thrill to be able to begin a program, to be in the second year of a program that is so focused on the science and so focused on the opportunity to deliver the benefits of this science to society.”

KGI School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Founding Dean, Kathy Webster also addressed the Class of 2019 and the audience. In speaking about the significance of the ceremony and of the professional and personal responsibilities that lay ahead Dr. Webster said, “This is the White Coat Ceremony and the reason we do this is because the day you walk into pharmacy school you have become a professional. We work very hard at KGI with all of our students to get you to take on that mantle and adopt that attitude in everything that you do. As you go out into the community whatever you do is a reflection on you, your family as well as KGI and the pharmacy profession. Pharmacy is still one of the most trusted professions that there is and it’s an honor for you to be a part of that, so you need to wear that honor proudly.”

In concluding, Dean Webster also stated how proud she was that each student was entering the PharmD program at KGI, which is a unique educational institute that prepares students for the future, prepares them to be adaptable and to understand the current trends that are necessary to practice in the pharmacy profession of tomorrow. Explaining the rigor of the PharmD program, she also emphasized to families and significant others in the audience that support and balance are vital to each student’s long term success.

Dean Webster also thanked special guests, including the keynote speaker, Steven W. Gray, PharmD, JD. Dr. Gray teaches pharmacy law and ethics and is President-Elect of the American Society for Pharmacy Law. He is currently the National Pharmacy Professional Affairs Leader for Kaiser Permanente and was recently chosen as the 2015 Pharmacist of the Year by the California Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

Dr. Gray spoke about the need for students to continue to cultivate a strong character and said, “Being smart and bold is what got you here to be a student pharmacist. It is what will carry you through to be one of the most trusted healthcare providers-a pharmacist. It will allow you some day to look back with pride over a life dedicated to the care of others.”

Commenting on the ceremony’s meaning Dr. Gray said it is a strong symbol of two realities. “First, White Coats are a reminder of a long and proud history of the pharmacy profession that for thousands of years was medical care. Second, it is symbolic of your innocence and eagerness at meeting the challenges and awesome responsibilities of keeping people healthy, getting them well and without a doubt saving lives.”

Dr. Gray also spoke of the quality of education students should expect to receive at KGI and said he knows KGI will not only give students the knowledge, skills and abilities that  will be needed to begin (a pharmacy career) but will also arm students with the attitude to reach the highest levels of pharmacist professional practice.

Other speakers included James F. Widergren from the KGI Board of Trustees, Sarah McBane, PharmD, CDE, BCPS, FCCP, President, California Pharmacist Association and Trevor Paynter, RPh, Director of Pharmacy and Retail Operations at Walgreens.

After being formally cloaked with their White Coats by faculty from the School of Pharmacy or a pharmacist parent, the students recited a pledge to adhere to the set of rigid ethical standards demanded by anyone entering the pharmacy profession.