Rx2022 welcomed at white coat ceremony

Monday, January 14, 2019

What does a white coat truly symbolize? Speakers explore this question at the annual event.

8 students recieving robes on stage at white coat ceremony

On January 10, Waterloo Pharmacy held its eleventh white coat ceremony to welcome Rx2022, the newest cohort of pharmacy students. White coat ceremonies are traditional events that first began in the 1980s, but what does the white coat truly represent? The event’s speakers had some thoughts:

“The white coat represents the trust that the patient places in their health care provider and the responsibility the pharmacist has to manage the medication needs of the patient,” said David Edwards, Hallman Director of Waterloo Pharmacy.

Robert Lemieux, Dean of Science for the University of Waterloo, shared the history of the white coat as a symbol in healthcare.:

“The tradition of the white coat goes back to the mid nineteenth century, when physicians wanted to be recognized as scientists… They adopted the dress code of a scientist back then which was the white laboratory coat. That tradition was adopted by other healthcare providers and carries on to this day.”

Allan Malek, Executive Vice President and Chief Pharmacy Officer of the Ontario Pharmacists Association, associated three core values with wearing a white coat: “I contend that the white coat represents notions of professionalism, of confidence, and of passion… Wear your passion on your sleeve and show it with every single patient and healthcare professional.”

David Edwards, Ken Potvin, five students and Allan Malek smiling

The coat is a symbol, speakers agreed, but Samantha Yau, President-Elect of the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists – Ontario Branch, also touched on its more practical uses: “The white coat is your official welcome to the profession of pharmacy… It’s also a great place to house your pens, references, cell phones… and according to one study there was a significant association between the seniority of the class and the weight of the white coat pocket.”

Parents, friends, faculty, and staff from the Waterloo Pharmacy attended the event to witness Rx2022’s induction into pharmacy school. The speakers offered these students advice.

“You are in a unique position to be the only health care providers with four plus years of pharmacotherapy education,” said Nancy Lum-Wilson, registrar of the Ontario College of Pharmacists. “Hold your head up high and make sure that you’re out there bringing that knowledge to the people that you serve.”

Tarun Fernandez, President of the Society of Pharmacy Students, shared a message of support with the new cohort.

Tarun Fernandez“No matter where you look, you're surrounded by people who want you to succeed. Be proud of yourself,” he said. “You got here because of all the hard work you put in to achieve your dreams. You made it.”

Rx2022 were helped into their white coats by faculty, staff, and alumni of the School. Thank you to event sponsors, the Ontario Pharmacists Association and Scotiabank, and to the parents, family, and friends who attended the ceremony. Welcome class of 2022!

Class of 2022 in their white coats giving thumbs up

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