UH Hilo’s newest student pharmacists mark start of studies at traditional White Coat Ceremony

The White Coat Ceremony is a tradition in medical, pharmacy and other health care schools to mark the transition of students embarking on their path toward doctoral degrees.

Group of 48 students standing on tiered platform, wearing white coats and holding copy of the Oath of a Pharmacist.
The incoming Class of 2023 of the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy at their White Coat ceremony, Oct. 13, 2019. Courtesy photos, click to enlarge.

The incoming class at the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy celebrated the start of their studies in a White Coat Ceremony held on Sunday. The ceremony was held at the Performing Arts Center of the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo, where the 48 student pharmacists of the Class of 2023 affirmed their commitment to the values of the pharmacy profession: professionalism, respect, integrity and compassion.

Several dignitaries on stage, one helping student put on the white coat.
Professor Supakit Wongwiwatthananukit helps first-year student pharmacist Brandi Hughes put on the White Coat at the pharmacy college’s Class of 2023 White Coat Ceremony October 13. Also on stage are, from left, the college’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Lara Gomez, faculty members Bryce Fukunaga and Michelle Kim, and Daryl Masanda, director of the Office of Student Affairs. Photo by Robbyn Peck.

The White Coat Ceremony is a tradition in medical, pharmacy and other health care schools to mark the transition of students starting their path toward doctoral degrees. Students receive a white coat as part of the ceremonies, and distinctive to Hawai‘i’s ceremony, each student also receives a lei as they enter the stage to recite the “Oath of a Pharmacist” in the presence of fellow students, faculty, staff, community supporters, and family.

Oath of a Pharmacist

“I promise to devote myself to a lifetime of service to others through the profession of pharmacy. In fulfilling this vow, I will consider the welfare of humanity and relief of suffering my primary concerns. I will apply my knowledge, experience, and skills to the best of my ability to assure optimal outcomes for my patients. I will respect and protect all personal and health information entrusted to me.

“I will accept the lifelong obligation to improve my professional knowledge and competence. I will hold myself and my colleagues to the highest principles of our profession’s moral, ethical and legal conduct. I will embrace and advocate changes that improve patient care. I will utilize my knowledge, skills, experiences, and values to prepare the next generation of pharmacists.

“I take these vows voluntarily with the full realization of the responsibility with which I am entrusted by the public.”

Dean Carolyn Ma stands in front of class while they recite oath.
Class recites Oath of a Pharmacist under the guidance of Dean Carolyn Ma.

White Coat Ceremony Program

The mele ho‘okipa, or welcoming chant, “Ua Ao Hawai‘i,” was performed by students, faculty and staff of Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikolani College of Hawaiian Language.

For the first time at a White Coat Ceremony, faculty, staff and students performed “Oi Ola Wai Honua,” written by Taupouri Tangaro, director of Hawaiian Culture and Protocols Engagement for UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College. The oli (Hawaiian chant) was introduced at the Class of 2019 Graduation Dinner and will be performed at all future landmark events at the college.

Key speakers at the event were UH Hilo Chancellor Bonnie Irwin, dean of the college Carolyn Ma, and representative from the Office of the Mayor, Wil Okabe, deputy managing director.

“I am proud of our students and grateful for the fact that they are going into a health profession where they can epitomize our mission of serving the region and the state with well qualified graduates,” says Chancellor Irwin.