By: Tasnima Nabi, PharmD Candidate c/o 2016
The most memorable moment of a professional’s career is when he or she is handed a symbol of what represents the culture and esteem of the chosen profession. For pharmacy students embarking upon a very intensive yet rewarding path, a white coat welcomes us into the pharmacy profession. The coat allows us to be recognized as competent and dedicated individuals with the determination to serve alongside other professionals in the healthcare services.
On November 18, 2012, St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences held the 13th Pharmacy White Coat Convocation. The Class of 2016 is known for being the largest class of Pharmacy students and holding this event was not an easy task. As per usual, the event was scheduled to take place during Pharmacy month in Marillac Auditorium. However, due to the venue size, limitations were placed on how many family members could attend. Students were upset and signed a petition that went viral. Gratefully, the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences took our concerns into great consideration; they made accommodations for us and changed the venue to Carnessecca Arena. In addition, the college webcasted the ceremony for those who could not attend. On behalf of our entire class, I thank St. John’s University and Dr. Brocavich for organizing an event that allowed us to share the special day with all of our family and friends.
The event commenced with Dr. Brocavich welcoming students, faculty, family, and friends. Caitlin McElroy, Assistant to the Dean, led a special prayer for the recovery of all affected by Hurricane Sandy; it is very unfortunate that so many of our students and faculty have been gravely impacted, and I sincerely hope and pray for everyone still suffering from the storm’s aftermath. Next, Dean Zito shared his sentiments on everything that a white coat symbolizes. He explained that putting on a white coat is like putting on the history of the profession. A white coat is not just a coat we wear every day, but also a commitment to provide the best pharmaceutical care for our patients. A white coat identifies us as people who are trusted for our knowledge and respected because of our skills, abilities, and commitment.
Dr. Mangione, Interim Provost, reminded us of all the privileges we have as students at St. John’s University. He told us that even though we have earned our white coats, there is still so much to learn and still so much more to do. He advised that we recognize our mentors and that we utilize all our opportunities. Most importantly, however, he highlighted the Vincentian quality of our profession; he highlighted the importance in how many lives we will save and how incredibly satisfying it will be, even if it goes unnoticed. Dr. Mangione’s words were very humbling. The ceremony truly would not have been complete without his presence and we are grateful that he was able to attend.
Cathy Y. Poon, an Alumni of St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions and Vice Dean and Professor at Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, spoke wise words about finding where our passions lie. She shared that one of the most meaningful things in her life was her education at St. John’s University, mainly because she met some of her greatest mentors here. It was also on her rotation with Dr. Mangione where she found her passion for Pediatric Pharmacy. Dr. Poon stressed that we should make the most of our years at St. John’s because it will be where we find what we want to do for the rest of our lives. It was truly inspiring to hear her journey and see how she has made the most of her experiences and degree.
Dr. Brocavich added a final note, taking us back to the day we sat in Marillac Auditorium for the Introductory Seminar for Pharmacy Students. He told us on the first day of class that six years seems like forever, but that time will pass by before we know it. And it has. As he told us to prepare to come onto stage to receive our white coats, it felt surreal; it felt like our first year at pharmacy was only a few months ago. After each of us received our white coats, Dr. Etzel, Assistant Dean for Pharmacy Student Affairs, congratulated us and led us in Oath of Commitment.
Hearing all the advice shone a different light on my education. We are so often tied up in assignments and exams that we tend to lose track of the purpose and ultimate goal. We are not just here to get our degrees to practice. We are here to meet and learn from exceptional individuals who have accomplished so much, and who are making an effort to help us achieve our goals. We are here to gain an experience that we will not find anywhere else. The White Coat Ceremony was not just a celebration of reaching our professional years, but a reminder of all the challenges and opportunities that are ahead of us. The white coat that was put on me is not just a symbol of my profession; it will always represent my personal growth and educational journey at St. John’s University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences.