This year’s keynote speaker was retired Rear Admiral Pamela Schweitzer, PharmD., who served as the U.S. Assistant Surgeon General and 10th Chief Pharmacist Officer of the U.S. Public Health Service.
First-year pharmacy students took the Oath of a Pharmacist on Oct. 17 as part of the annual White Coat Ceremony at the Daniel K. Inouye College of Pharmacy, University of Hawai‘i at Hilo. Attendance was limited to the students and a small number of faculty and staff. Family and friends were able to watch the livestreamed ceremony online (see above video).
Students were addressed by Carolyn Ma, dean of the college, who shared her own personal story of growing up on O‘ahu 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 retired Rear Admiral Pamela Schweitzer, PharmD., who served as the United States Assistant Surgeon General and 10th Chief Pharmacist Officer of the U.S. Public Health Service in 2014-2018.
“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,” Schweitzer said at the ceremonies. “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.”
She 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.”
A drive-by celebration was held on A‘ohoku Street following the ceremony.
The Class of 2025 continues the pharmacy college’s tradition of being diverse. Along with many students from within the state of Hawai‘i, the new cohort includes a sizeable group from the continental United States, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, and South Korea.