First-year students took the Oath of a Pharmacist as part of the annual DKICP White Coat Ceremony, held Sunday, October 17, at 10 a.m. on the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo campus, in Hale Kihoʻihoʻi. Attendance was limited to P1 students and a small number of faculty and staff, but family and friends were able to watch the livestreamed ceremony online.
A recording can be viewed on the DKICP YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/watch?v=C3J3qn4xTOk.
Students were addressed by Dean Carolyn Ma, who shared some of her own personal story of growing up on Oahu and the emphasis her parents put on education in achieving personal goals. She stressed to students the importance of commitment to their new profession, how they will be challenged, but how eventually their commitment will become their bedrock, and a platform for helping to maintain the health and wellbeing of others.
This year’s keynote speaker was Rear Admiral (ret) Pamela Schweitzer, PharmD., who served as the U.S. Assistant Surgeon General and 10th Chief Pharmacist Officer of the U.S. Public Health Service from 2014-2018. She said the students were entering the pharmacy profession at a very important time. “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. 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 hour-long ceremony, a drive-by celebration was held on Aohoku Street, below Hale Kihoʻihoʻi, which allowed family and friends to recognized inductees with waves, honks and signs.