About 134 pharmacy students trooped out for the 4th edition of the annual White Coat Ceremony on February 27, 2017 at the Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lagos (UNILAG), Idi-Araba, Lagos.
In attendance were Prof. Boladale Silva, dean; Dr. Rebecca Soremekun, head of department, clinical pharmacy and biopharmacy; Dr Chukwuemeka Azubuike, head of department, pharmaceutics and pharm tech. as well as Dr Abimbola Sowemimo, sub dean of the faculty.
Addressing the 200 level students, Pharm. Ifechukwu Nwogu, one of the 16 distinction graduate of 2015/2016 set with CGPA of 4.84, urged them not to allow previous academic failure to hamper their new endeavour.
Nwogu, who currently works for Bio-Trust Pharmacy in Bode Thomas area of Lagos, encouraged the students saying they must be persistence in what they do and learn to leave everything in the hands of God.
“I was once in your position, so unsure of what the future portends. Each experience keeps me going. Now, I am having a wonderful real world experience away from classroom theories.
“One thing I know for sure is that challenges don’t determine one’s success. Don’t always wish for less challenge. Ask God, instead, for wisdom to tackle them,” he canvassed.
Looking dapper in their white laboratory coats, the young pharmacy scholars were seen exchanging cameras and taking pictures with colleagues and lecturers while the event lasted.
Speaing further, Silva described the donning of laboratory coat as rite of passage, which symbolises their transition from lay to pharmacists in training.
“You can see how excited they (students) were wearing the coat officially for the first time. Until now, some of them used to sneak it on without approval. However they have been officially commissioned to start wearing it.
On why the faculty brought in the young pharmacist to address them, the dean told Pharmanews that the aim was to make the students feel relax.
“They have been used to hearing the academic teaching staff address them. However, the idea of having someone who until now used to be their fellow student share his experience with them would be welcome by anybody,” he said.
Silva also explained the absence of parents and guardians from the occasion stating that since the ceremony was more of a solemn programme, bringing in too many fanfare could make it lose meaning.
“Besides the thought of them rushing to cook food and inviting relatives and friends could further add to the strain of paying tuition, buying books and other academic materials. It will be a big burden on them,” he expressed his fear.
The climax of the occasion was the administration of oath of allegiance and donning of the laboratory coats as a sign of acceptance which was greeted with a thunderous applause by the elated students.
In his closing remark, the dean expressed his appreciation to Pharmanews (for continually creating awareness and support for the faculty), PANS, heads of department, sub dean and the entire students for their presence and success of the programme.
The white coat has been described as being more than a familiar laboratory garment but a cloak of respect, integrity, competence, communication, character and a learning commitment to provide pharmaceutical care, assuring safe and effective use of medication for the benefit of the patient and society.
The White Coat Ceremony relevance was made possible by Arnold P. Gold Foundation which established it in 1993 as a way to welcome new students into the medical profession. The most important element of the ceremony is the oath that students take in front of family members, school leadership and peers.
The oath acknowledges their primary role as care givers. The ceremony and the oath serve as a rite of passage and are further commemorated by lapel pins that the Foundation supplies to students at all ceremonies. The pins contain an inscription about humanism in medicine and serve as a visual reminder to students that in order to deliver the best care to their patients, compassion and empathy must be the hallmark of their clinical practice.
Schools across the world, however, choose how to commemorate the ceremony – whether it be presentation of a white coat to each student or some other icon of medicine, such as a stethoscope.
Subsequently other arms of the health sector such as pharmacy, optometry, audiology, dental, chiropractic, occupational therapy, physical therapy, podiatric, physician assistants, Pathologists’ Assistants, nursing, naturopathic and veterinary medical schools have since adopted the initiative.
UNILAG Faculty of Pharmacy was the first to blaze the trail by adopting the White Coat Ceremony among Nigerian pharmacy schools in 2014. It