Students read the statement of commitmentThe UQ School of Pharmacy has welcomed to the profession the first group of students to begin their degree at PACE.

The 2010 Bachelor of Pharmacy 1st year cohort, made up of some 334 students, took part in an inaugural engagement ceremony that saw them receive a white dispensing coat and a written "statement of commitment".

The ceremony is the first of its kind in an Australian pharmacy school, but follows in the footsteps of Institutions in Canada and the US.

Members of the pharmacy profession were on hand to personally greet the students and welcome them after the official proceedings, which included a group reading of the Statement of Commitment, lead by 4th Year Bachelor of Pharmacy Honours student, Mr Joe Monteith.

Dr Lisa Nissen, an Associate Professor (QUM) at the School of Pharmacy, and President of the PSA (QLD Branch), was instrumental in bringing such an event to the School, after having seen similar ceremonies receive positive feedback from students and academics overseas.  

A/Prof. Nissen attended the event last Tuesday, later saying:

Prof. Nick Shaw and Ms Calista Bui"The idea behind the engagement ceremony is to welcome our incoming pharmacy students to not only the school, but importantly to the profession as a whole. The concept has been adapted from similar ceremonies undertaken in pharmacy (and medical) schools around North America.

"In a nutshell, the students are given a dispensing coat by the school. With an important part of the ceremony being the reciting of a student oath, whereby they promise to uphold the principles of the profession and a focus on health care throughout their university studies and beyond. A number of distinguished guests from the profession and our alumni then shake hands with the students and welcome them to the “family”.

"We see the ceremony as our opportunity to provide the students with some sense of the history, pride and professionalism that is pharmacy and the highlight the responsibility and crucial role we play in the community as a whole. We hope it will give them a sense of community, as students and as health professionals in training.

"The 'coat' itself is designed to be used as a symbol of professionalism and a commitment to health care provision. Students will wear the coat in the professional components of the course, including in counseling and dispensing tutorials and for their oral exams. It will be an expected requirement for these session and we hope will reinforce some sense of responsibility and accountability in the students as a whole. Pharmacy is such a wonderful profession, steeped in history and with an exciting and challenging future – this ceremony is to remind the students that they are a critical part of it."

The School's First year Coordinator, Dr Lynne Emmerton, spoke to the gathering, and later said:

"We’ll be seeking student feedback on what this ceremony meant to them, but they did seem to enjoy the concept. 

"The lecture theatre full of around 330 white coats looked quite spectacular, and the students sensed that.  However, it wasn’t only about the coats.  This was hopefully just the start of the students’ ongoing commitment to professionalism as both undergraduates and future pharmacists, and the earlier that they engage with the concept of professionalism, the better”

Official proceedings were followed by refreshments in PACE's Level 4 Interaction Space, where students were able to mingle with members of the profession, staff and alumni.

The School will continue to hold an engagement ceremony for each incoming cohort in the future.

Pictured (above right): The 2010 Bachelor of Pharmacy 1st year cohort recite the Statement of Commitment during Tuesday's ceremony

Pictured (left): Professor Nick Shaw (Head of School) welcomes 1st Year Bachelor of Pharmacy student, Ms Calista Bui.


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