Pharmacy, PA students enter health professions through White Coat Ceremony

BUIES CREEK – First-year pharmacy and physician assistant students received the rite of passage into their chosen health program on Aug. 24 during Campbell University’s College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences’ White Coat Ceremony.

The annual event is a symbolic ceremony representing students’ entrance into their health profession. One hundred and ten pharmacy students and 40 PA students were presented with white coats to wear during their clinical training. They also signed an oath of dedication.

In her message to the incoming students, Valerie Barlow, PharmD, director of pharmacy services at WakeMed Health and Hospitals, discussed the importance of professionalism while donning the white coats in their future practice.

“Campbell will reinforce your learning by promoting the important components of professionalism such as empathy, humanism, cultural competence and community service,” Barlow said.

She urged students to internalize the concepts of professionalism through observing their mentors on clinical rotations.

“You’ll experience mentors who will astound you with their compassion, knowledge and respect for others. Similarly, you’re going to witness people who are in clear contrast to these qualities, but that is equally important. Simply put, you are going to learn that you don’t want to be that person.”

Traditionally, the white coat is a symbol of professional competence in both health care practice and human compassion, a reminder that students will carry with them throughout their educational training.

For John Norris, a pharmacy student from Goldsboro, receiving his white coat is significant in achieving his goal of becoming a pharmacist, “I’ve wanted to do this since high school and the White Coat Ceremony is the next step in starting my career.”

Regina Gurley has dreamed of receiving her white for a very long time.

“It is a symbol of all my hard work to get here, and of the calling that this profession is. It’s a huge thing for me,” said Gurley, who is a PA student from Princeton, and a 2011 Campbell graduate from the master’s in clinical research program.


By Andrea Pratt, College of Pharmacy & Health Sciences

Pictured: Pharmacy classmates Michelle Anderson and Rebecca Arnold exchange a smile after receiving their white coats during a special ceremony at Campbell University on Aug. 24.