Linda Garrelts MacLean

“You need to remember you are not going on this journey by yourself, so I’m going to ask you to rely on yourself, each other and your networks.”

This is the advice that Interim Dean Linda Garrelts MacLean gave to 32 Yakima and 116 Spokane incoming student pharmacists at the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences (CPPS) white coat ceremonies over the course of two days from August 15-16.

The new student pharmacists were welcomed to the college, and profession, first by MacLean then by a Student Ambassador Executive Committee Member student speaker for the respective campuses.

On Thursday, August 15, Virginia Gonzalez issued the Yakima student welcome, where she continued on MacLean’s theme of support by reminding incoming students, “we are all pharmily now. If you ever need help or someone to talk to you, you can always reach out.”

The Spokane white coat ceremony followed on Friday, August 16, when student speaker Justin Vo addressed the incoming students for Spokane. In one memorable piece of advice, Vo told the new students, “I know it can be tough with everything that will be happening and sometimes it feels like everything is falling apart. Just remember tacos fall apart all the time but YET… we still love them.”

Both ambassadors were followed by the White Coat Ceremony keynote speaker, Sarah Beaty-VanDeMark. Beaty-VanDeMark is a 1976 Washington State University graduate and the former director of system pharmacy program development for Providence Health Services.

Over the course of her speech she shared memories from her 45-year career as a pharmacist and insights as to where she believes the profession is headed.

“Our role is to optimize therapeutic outcomes by promoting safe, cost-effective medication therapy for our patients,” said VanDeMark. “We can actively engage them in their own care, empowering their commitment to their own well-being… Health care in the U.S. is actively promoting wellness, appropriate medication treatment is a key factor in this wellness, as well as part of the treatment, and you will be the driver of this aspect of the new paradigm.”

The college has a longstanding tradition of presenting student pharmacists with white lab coats at the beginning of their first year to signify their entry into the professional ranks. For new student pharmacists, the white coat ceremony is often seen as a symbol of professionalism, trust and care.

The white coats for the class of 2023 were donated by Nick, ’04, and Gloria Bruck. Nick Bruck also took the stage during the ceremonies, coating the new student pharmacists. The ceremonies and receptions were made possible with the support of Walgreens. Yakima and Spokane White Coat Ceremony and reception photos can be found on Facebook.