TCOP White Coat Ceremony Goes Virtual
59 Student-Pharmacists Welcome New Responsibilities
While the pandemic has closed many New York institutions and rituals, it could not stop the celebration of the 59 students of Touro College of Pharmacy’s class of 2024 as they held a virtual White Coat Ceremony to highlight their entrance into their pharmaceutical studies and the initial stages of the profession of pharmacy practice.
The ceremony, held via Zoom on January 21, touched upon the history of the white coat in the medical field as well as the students’ newfound responsibilities. Speakers included Touro College Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Patricia Salkin, Touro College of Pharmacy Dean Dr. Henry Cohen, TCOP COO Dr. Abraham Jeger, and TCOP Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Martin Brown. The invocation was delivered by Touro College Executive Vice President Rabbi Moshe Krupka.
“You are now donning your white coats, a symbol of caring and compassion your patients hope to receive,” stated Dean Cohen. “Just as importantly the white coats symbolize another critical part of your education: developing the highest standards of patient-centered professionalism.”
Provost Salkin noted the importance of the pharmaceutical profession during the pandemic as well as the Jewish notion of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world.
“Now more than ever society is counting on the pharmacy profession,” Provost Salkin said. “Every time you put on the white coat it should be a reminder of the sacred obligation it represents. Each one of you, individually and communally, has an obligation to heal the world.”
Keynote speaker Ruth E. Cassidy, BS, Pharm.D., MBA, FACHE—president-elect for the New York State Council of Health-system Pharmacists and Senior Vice President of Clinical Support Services and the Chief Pharmacy Officer at SBH Health System in the Bronx—spoke about her own journey to the upper echelons of the pharmacy world and the challenges she faced both as a woman in the profession and as a mother of six children.
“I hope to inspire you,” said Dr. Cassidy. “I’ve had mentors in my life, but I’m going to say that for a female pharmacist, there weren’t a lot of mentors that were women… You can have a family and a successful career. It’s how much you drive yourself and how much support you have.”
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone,” Dr. Cassidy explained “If you’re comfortable you’re not advancing. Always stay in a slightly uncomfortable situation—you’ll grow that way. Inevitably you will have challenges, some will be predictable, but most will not. Just keep on pushing. You will bring the profession forward… Pharmacy is a cornerstone of the hospital. You have potential to lead, not just in the pharmacy division, but the entire hospital.”
The Pharmaceutical Pledge of Professionalism was read by P2 Kenneth Pawa.
P1 Rachel Barret—whose sister is a graduate of TCOP’s sister school Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine—said that the ceremony was meaningful for her. “Obviously it was a little disappointing that we couldn’t have the ceremony in-person but keeping everyone safe is far more important,” said Barret. “It was really exciting. Putting on our white coats was something we were looking forward to. This marks us as pharmacy students and now we have ethical responsibilities to our patients and our profession. When we wear our white coats, we represent the pharmacy profession and TCOP.”
“It’s something our class looked forward to,” explained P1 Dorina Birce. “It wasn’t the traditional White Coat Ceremony, but we still have something to hold on to as a memory.”