University of South Florida

Seizing the future: Donning new white coats, pharmacy students prepare to lead

The College of Pharmacy celebrated the entry of 98 news students into the profession at the Class of 2018 White Coat Ceremony.

Members of the USF College of Pharmacy Class of 2018 marked their entry into the profession of pharmacy Friday evening at the college’s fourth annual White Coat Ceremony. The 98 new doctor of pharmacy (PharmD) students pledged their commitment to integrity, ethical behavior and honor that are hallmarks of the pharmacy profession.

Each first-year student received a coat donated through funds raised by faculty, staff, parents, community members and other friends of the college. The additional monies raised above the cost of the coats will help support pharmacy student scholarships.

Charles Lockwood, MD, senior vice president of USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine, welcomed the students and their families and friends gathered in the USF Marshall Student Center ballroom.

“You will be leaders in a health care revolution, providing medications optimized to the makeup of your students,” Dr. Lockwood said. “As never before, you will be able to tailor medications to the needs of your patients so they are better, safer and less expensive.”


Dr. Charles Lockwood, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine

National surveys rating the honesty and ethical standards of professions consistently rank pharmacists near the top of the list, Dr. Lockwood noted. The most recent Gallup poll (2013) rated pharmacists second only to nurses as the most trustworthy profession.

That level of confidence and respect confers tremendous responsibility, he said. “Your patients need to be at the center of your lives… They will turn to you in trust, and trust is one of the main things required to begin the process of healing.”

The students were also welcomed into their new profession by leading representatives of all four USF Health Colleges:  Dr. Bryan Bognar, vice dean of educational affairs, Morsani College of Medicine, Dr Laura Lee “Dolly” Swisher, assistant dean and coordinator of professional education, School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences; Dr. Connie Viscovsky, associate dean of student affairs and community engagement, College of Nursing; and Rita DeBate, associate dean of academic and student affairs, College of Public Health.  Joe Ford, assistant vice president of USF Health Shared Student Services, also congratulated the class.

Before turning to address the class, Kevin B. Sneed, PharmD, dean of the College of Pharmacy, used his cell phone camera to snap a selfie with the students on the stage behind him. “Ok, you’ve just been sent to Twitter,” he said to laughter.

Then he challenged his newest students to embrace the future of pharmacy – a future that will include an influx of eligible baby boomers entering Medicare at the unprecedented rate of more than 10,000 people a year.

“On the average they will be taking more than 12 medications a day,” Dr. Sneed said, pointing out that more than ever before the pharmacist needs to be a leading member of the health care team to help ensure patient safety and quality of care.


Dr. Kevin Sneed, dean of the College of Pharmacy, with Dr. H. James Brownlee Jr. of the Morsani College of Medicine, who received the Dean’s Award in recognition of his advocacy and support of the profession of pharmacy.

USF’s rigorous four-year PharmD curriculum emphasizes a collaborative approach to patient care and research among pharmacy, medicine, nursing, public health and other health professions.

That interprofessional education and training will prepare USF pharmacy graduates for working effectively in interprofessional teams, Dr. Sneed said. “Multiple studies show that when the clinician pharmacists join other health professionals as part of a health care team, patient care improves.”

Keynote speaker H.W. “Ted” Matthews, PhD, RPh, senior vice president for health sciences and dean of the College of Pharmacy at Mercer University, encouraged the students to always be prepared – “the key to confidence” he said — and strive for excellence on their path to a successful career and life.   But, he said, don’t let aiming for perfection be “the enemy of getting things done.”

“Be someone with a can-do attitude who makes things happen regardless of the problems encountered,” he said. “Failing at something should be viewed as a temporary delay on the way for something better to occur.”


Keynote speaker Dr. H.W. “Ted” Matthews, senior vice president for health sciences and dean of the College of Pharmacy at Mercer University.

Dr. Sneed presented a Dean’s Award to H. James Brownlee, Jr, MD, professor and medical director of the USF Health Executive Wellness Center, who chaired the Department of Family Medicine nearly 20 years, from 1992 to 2011. The award recognized Dr. Brownlee’s advocacy and support for the profession of pharmacy and his continued service as a physician.

A second award was presented to Dr. Matthews for his leadership to the profession of pharmacy and humanitarianism to all those in need.

Dr. Sneed credited the mentorship of both Dr. Matthews and Dr. Brownlee for influencing his career and life.

Following the presentation of the white coats by faculty members, the students recited their oath of professionalism, led by Angela Hill, PharmD, BCPP, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacotherapeutics and Clinical Research and associate dean of clinical affairs for the College of Pharmacy.

USF College of Pharmacy Class of 2018 by the Numbers

– 98 students  (54 percent women, 44 percent men)
– 50 percent represent students from ethnically and racially diverse backgrounds
– 43 percent are first-generation college students











-Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Communications


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