First-year students took the Oath of a Pharmacist as part of the annual University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy (DKICP) White Coat Ceremony, held Sunday, October 17.
The ceremony signifies the rite of passage for students entering their first year in the professional program to affirm their commitment to the values of their profession, including professionalism, respect, integrity and compassion.
Attendance inside UH Hilo’s Hale Kihoʻihoʻi was limited to pharmacy students and a small number of faculty and staff. Family and friends were able to watch the ceremony online.
Students were addressed by DKICP Dean Carolyn Ma, who shared her own personal story of growing up on Oʻahu and the emphasis her parents put on education in achieving personal goals. Ma stressed to students the importance of commitment to their new profession, challenges ahead and their commitment to helping maintain the health and wellbeing of others.
Rear Admiral (ret.) Pamela Schweitzer served as a keynote speaker at the induction ceremony. From 2014 to 2018, Schweitzer was the U.S. assistant surgeon general and 10th chief pharmacist officer of the U.S. Public Health Service.
“Pharmacists are now playing such a critical role during the pandemic by providing COVID testing and vaccine administration, and by ensuring uninterrupted delivery of routine pharmacy services,” Schweitzer said during her address. “The COVID-19 pandemic has been a game-changer for our profession, and you’re coming into it as this transformation comes to a peak.”
Schweitzer also encouraged students to help their family members in maneuvering through the healthcare system. “Everyone needs a healthcare advocate and you will become experts at this. COVID-19 has brought to the forefront the importance of having strong healthcare infrastructures in our communities. Many of you will be part of improving that infrastructure for years to come.”
Following the ceremony, a drive-by celebration was held for students on Aohōkū Street. The Class of 2025 includes many students from within the state of Hawaiʻi, the Continental U.S., American Sāmoa, Puerto Rico and South Korea.