Ohio Northern University’s third-year pharmacy students received their white coats Sept. 28 at the annual White Coat Ceremony,an event where pharmacy majors “recommit themselves to their profession” according to third-year pharmacy student Carmen Bowers. 

Pharmacy students have a mentor, who is a graduated pharmacist, to watch over them throughout their time in school. The mentors present their mentees with the coat and then the students recite an oath of professional commitment to pharmacy. 

The ceremony is imperative to pharmacy students because it signifies not only moving forward through university and pharmacy school into deeper aspects of information but also gives the students a physical symbol of being a trustworthy professional to themselves, their peers, and their patients. 

“It is the first time the students receive a symbol of their professional commitment to serve their patients,” Dr. Kristin Sobota, a pharmacist and pharmacy professor said. “The ceremony means a lot to me because I get to see the growth in my students and see them become a colleague with me, we are now working together.”

Pharmacy students receive their white coats during the third year of pharmacy school because it symbolizes the beginning of a deeper understanding. During the first and second years of pharmacy school, the students are still working through the fundamentals of pharmacy. 

“During the P3 year, you really start to get into information, OTC’s [over-the-counter], and how to counsel patients based on the knowledge you gain during your P3 year,” Bowers said. 

The third year is also the year that the students typically have enough hours to apply for internships, begin hands-on pharmacy training, and focusing on the rigorous pharmacy courses according to Dr. Sobota. It is halfway point before the students graduate and receive their degree, as well as the title of “Dr.” or “PharmD.” 

Bowers chose pharmacy because she knew she wanted to go into the medical field because she enjoyed the chemistry aspect of pharmacy and combining it with patient care. She also appreciates how everything in the field is always changing and developing and that there is always something new to help her better care for her patients. Her mother also works as a Pharmaceutical Research Scientist and helped to guide Carmen to her decision. 

“Having my white coat makes me feel more knowledgeable, but also gives me confidence that patients trust me and are more likely to adhere to the treatment I offer,” Bowers said. “When a patient sees you in a white coat, they know that they can trust you.”

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