Pharmacy school holds its first-ever White Coat Ceremony

Inaugural class dons white coats, takes Pharmacy Oath

Mavis Adu-Bonsu was the first student to receive a white lab coat from faculty Erin Pauling and William Eggleston during the inaugural School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences White Coat Ceremony held at the Watters Theater on Sept. 9. Image Credit: Jonathan Cohen.
Mavis Adu-Bonsu was the first student to receive a white lab coat from faculty Erin Pauling and William Eggleston during the inaugural School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences White Coat Ceremony held at the Watters Theater on Sept. 9.
Mavis Adu-Bonsu was the first student to receive a white lab coat from faculty Erin Pauling and William Eggleston during the inaugural School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences White Coat Ceremony held at the Watters Theater on Sept. 9. Photography: Jonathan Cohen.

Great opportunities, great responsibilities and great rewards come to those who choose a pharmacist’s career. That was the message Binghamton University’s first class of students in its new School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (SOPPS) heard at its White Coat Ceremony.

Lee Briscoe-Dwyer, vice president of clinical affairs at PharMEDium Healthcare Corp., spoke to the class members before they crossed the Watters Theater stage Sept. 9 to be coated by faculty.

The milestone event was the culmination of five years of planning, President Harvey Stenger said.

“We did it!” he said. “Parents, friends, students, faculty, staff and everybody who was involved in this first year of the first class. You are certainly a first-class first class. We did it, and welcome to Binghamton.

“This was the biggest of my big ideas,” he added, while joking that he wasn’t sure what to wear to a White Coat Ceremony so he wore a psychedelic tie. He turned serious when talking about the planning and effort that had gone into establishing the new school. “My commitment to you students, faculty, staff, friends and parents is that I will be the best resource gatherer you will ever find. There is so much more to do to make sure you’re successful every step of the way from here to your graduation.

“Your miracle-worker dean, Gloria Meredith, doesn’t have a blank check, but she has a debit card with a very large balance,” he said. “Good luck!”

Meredith recognized RoseAnn and Timothy Jankowski for their generous support of the ceremony, and Lisa Menner Brandt and her husband, Dick, who endowed a faculty fellow for the school.

Charles Aswad ‘53, executive vice president emeritus of the Medical Society of the State of New York, chairs the SOPPS Advisory Council and also spoke.

As a member of the first class in Harpur College, he was reminded of the words of the University’s founding president, Glenn G. Bartle. “He said to my class of freshman what I will say to you: As the inaugural class, the first and charter class, you’ve been selected because the admissions committee saw an ability to place in trust the development of the next generation of pharmacists. From this day forward, there will always be a comma after your name and it will signify that you are a student at the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Binghamton University. That places on you tremendous responsibility because your success will be a testament to the professionalism of this school. It’s a wonderful opportunity, but an awesome responsibility.”

Briscoe-Dwyer told the students that being a pharmacist isn’t just what she does, but is who she is.

“Your white coats are a sign of commitment to the profession and your responsibility to become the best clinician you can be,” she said. “You have a responsibility for greatness. It may seem like a great deal of pressure, but don’t shy away from it, embrace it. No one is more relevant to the profession of pharmacy today than you.”

She encouraged students to continue to raise the standards of the profession. With eight pharmacy schools in New York state, “we don’t need another mediocre school,” she said. “Don’t settle for mediocrity. Raise the bar because you have the responsibility for greatness.”

Briscoe-Dwyer told the students that pharmacists are the great disrupters in healthcare. “You can be disrupters,” she said. “Challenge expectations about pharmacy students and new graduates. Prepare not to pass a test, but to train to be a pharmacist, a problem solver, a critical thinker, able to make decisions and be accountable. Really listen to hear what patients are saying. Show up every day. It is your responsibility to learn.”

Trust was also part of Briscoe-Dwyer’s message. “Every day be reminded of the trust bestowed on us. Have faith and trust that we will do the right thing every time. Trust is the foundation of every professional relationship you will have moving forward,” she said.

“Remember that every patient is someone’s father, mother or child,” she added, “so strive to provide perfect care for all and don’t settle for less.”

Every visit to a hospital or a clinic has the potential to be a life-changing event, she added. “You will see people at their most vulnerable and often at the end of a long, frightening day. Most often they will not be at their best and because of that we must be. It’s an honor to be part of someone’s life that way. So respect your patients and their right to privacy and to make informed decisions about their healthcare. Remain in all circumstances an advocate for that patient.

“You have the opportunity to share in some of the most important experiences and decisions in a person’s life,” she added. “In all likelihood, you will be the only pharmacist they will see when they are sick, scared, overwhelmed or in pain. Each person will have a unique need that only you can fill and you have an obligation to ensure that each person gets your best effort every time.”

The rewards are great, she said. “The thanks from a grateful patient, the respect of a colleague, the intangibles that will stay with you always.

“Being a pharmacist comes with opportunity, responsibility and rewards. May you wear them well,” she said.

“My name is Lee Briscoe-Dwyer, and I’m a pharmacist.”

Posted in: Campus News, Pharmacy