The Classes of 2015, 2017 receive white coats

The start of every journey begins with a single step.  For the first-year physician assistant students and future pharmacists at Campbell University’s College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, their journey starts with a pristine white coat.

The College held two ceremonies celebrating the start of the first-years’ academic careers in health sciences on August 23.  The first ceremony honored 44 physician assistant students while a second ceremony honored 108 doctor of pharmacy candidates.  Both ceremonies were held on Campbell’s main campus in Buies Creek, N.C.

“The white coat formally recognizes and symbolizes professionalism, integrity, high moral values, high standards, empathy, compassion and humanism,” said Ronald Maddox, vice president for health programs and dean of the College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences, who brought greetings on behalf of the university at both ceremonies.

The PA Class of 15 was addressed by Dr. Charlotte Paolini, medical director for the department of physician assistant practice, who gave a brief history of the white coat and jokingly referred to her white coat as a PCP – personal clothing protector.  She shared that there are 5 prescriptions to a successful medical career, “Stay teachable. Don’t expect truth from information. Remain humble. Study God’s opinion. Don’t neglect education of the heart.”

In closing, Paolini congratulated the students on their successful entry into the program and advised them, “Do not let school interfere with your education.”

After the students received their coats, Andrew Nida, Wallace Student Society President and member of the Class of 2014, welcomed the new students.

“You are joining a group of students who will push you and guide you to be the very best. You will learn to be Campbell proud and you will learn to be involved.”

The afternoon closed with the PharmD white coat ceremony which also included recognition of the dean’s academic scholarship recipients.

While addressing the PharmD Class of 2017, Dr. Paige Brown - assistant professor and president of the College’s Alumni Association – recalled attending her own white coat ceremony at Campbell University and the lessons her first white coat taught her.

“This clean white coat represents much about you as you begin the process of becoming a pharmacist.  Your mind is open to experience all of the critically important lessons of your professors.  It is a blank slate, waiting to gain information and proper attitudes.”

Although the programs had two separate ceremonies, the overwhelming theme of both was interprofessionalism and how essential it is to today’s health care industry.

While the white coat ceremonies celebrated the achievements of the first-year students, the Class of 2017 memorialized one of their own at today’s ceremony. Matthew Ryan Tucker, an incoming first-year pharmacy student, tragically lost his life in an automobile accident before the start of the academic year. A seat was left open in his memory and his white coat was accepted by his family.