Lauded by their professors, peers, family and friends, 60 first-year pharmacy students pledged to be ethical pharmacists who care compassionately for their patients and advance the profession.
They did so during the Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy’s affirmation ceremony Saturday in the DeSantis Family Chapel. Atlantis Pharmacy and the Palm Beach County Pharmacy Association sponsored the ceremony.
The students “are committed to serving others with compassion and excellence,” in keeping with the school’s overarching mission of educating ethical, professional pharmacists, said Dean Dr. Jeffrey Lewis.
He praised the family, friends and faculty in attendance for loving, praying for and encouraging their students.
“They are going to be better pharmacists because of you,” Lewis said.
Class of 2023 President Alex Shantiai led the students in reciting the oath of a pharmacist, after which students were outfitted with their white coats. Dr. Andria Church, assistant professor and class adviser, oversaw the presentation of the coats.
More than a school uniform or work attire, the coats are symbolic, said Dr. Jonathan Jackson, assistant dean for students and assistant professor. Earlier in the academic year, Jackson wore his white coat to the pharmacists’ servant leadership course. Students described people who wear white coats as having professionalism, integrity, leadership, compassion and expertise in medication and as being a source of help.
“These words now describe you,” Jackson said, adding that the coats will change the way they are seen by others.
Fellow pharmacy students Beverly Francis, president of the class of 2020; Darrius Preston, president of the class of 2021 and Maryam Saleh Alamoudi, president of the class of 2022, helped their peers put on their coats.
Keynote speaker Dr. Sarah Reeg Haley, Pharm.D. ’15, urged students to think of the white coats as a mantle of responsibility — for their patients, themselves and their profession. Haley, a Walgreen’s pharmacist in Tampa, Florida, won the Florida Pharmacy Association’s Pharmacists Mutual Distinguished Young Pharmacist Award in 2019.
A pharmacist’s first and foremost responsibility is to patients, Haley said. She urged the students to be unafraid to answer God’s call to pray with a patient or offer other comfort, encouragement or expertise.
“My patients have such a high level of trust in me as their pharmacist,” Haley said.
Quoting 1 Timothy 4:12, Haley instructed the rising pharmacists to conduct themselves in such a way that no one looks down on them because they are young. They should seek out and seize new opportunities during their pharmacy training, she said.
“A rotation is truly what you make of it,” Haley said.
During a rotation, she observed one open heart surgery and was so fascinated that she asked her preceptor if she could watch others. Her preceptor gave her the go-ahead to sit in on whatever surgeries she wanted.
Haley developed a passion for legislative advocacy during her time as a Gregory School of Pharmacy student — a passion that she’s since nurtured in current pharmacy students on the west coast of Florida, where she now lives. She advised the first-year students that it is their duty to advocate for the profession.
“Nobody else is going to speak up for you,” Haley said.
Jackson reminded them of their responsibilities at Palm Beach Atlantic.
“Here at the Gregory School of Pharmacy, you are expected to be a servant leader who puts the needs of others first,” he said.
The Lloyd L. Gregory School of Pharmacy Class of 2023:
Rebeca Arias Perez
Stephanie Gurumendi Geigel
Claudia Reyes Estevez
Oscar Vega González
Amyn Zaher Saleh