White Coat Ceremonies occur at medical and pharmacy schools across the nation, but what do they really symbolize, and how is our ceremony different from many others?
The Professional Advancement Ceremony held by the college each year to welcome P1 students into the professional division has its roots in the tradition of White Coat Ceremonies, ritual “robing” ceremonies for physicians and other health care professionals.
Traditionally, such ceremonies include oaths of commitment to the ethical and professional standards for the profession. The white coat symbolizes the honor bestowed by society upon health care and laboratory professionals, and the ceremony welcomes initiates in these professions to the early stages of their professional development.
At The University of Toledo, the Professional Advancement Ceremony has evolved uniquely to include the “robing” of both students in the Doctor of Pharmacy program and those in the B.S. in Pharmaceutical Sciences program’s cosmetic science and formulation design, medicinal and biological chemistry, pharmaceutics, and pharmacology/toxicology majors. Students who major in pharmacy administration are honored with a professional portfolio, symbolic of their use of data and management in pharmacy.
All students touch the lives of others, either through patient care, management or research, thus the emphasis on standards of behavior and professionalism benefits the new P1 students. Their understanding of the rewards and responsibilities of their chosen careers is an essential brick in the foundation of professionalism.