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By Heidi Wicks

Among the members of the School of Pharmacy’s Class of 2019, Premier Dwight Ball was on hand to receive the first honorary white coat during the school’s 10th annual White Coat Ceremony Jan. 12.

The ceremony formally welcomes first-year pharmacy students into the profession, acknowledging the hard work they have done so far and instilling the ethical responsibility that comes with being a health-care practitioner.

Alumni of Memorial’s School of Pharmacy talk about what their white coats mean to them in the following video.

President Kachanoski congratulated the students on reaching the academic milestone and remarked on the number of paths a career in pharmacy might take.

“Many of our pharmacy alumni work around the world in all aspects of pharmaceutical practice, teaching and research. You may even, someday, become premier,” he said, acknowledging Premier’s Ball’s career as a pharmacist.

Dean Carlo Marra spoke about the school’s commitment to providing students with the best teaching and learning experience, and to graduating pharmacists who enter the profession fully practice-ready.

“Our innovative programs in pharmacy practice, research, and teaching and learning ultimately translate into improvements in health outcomes for Newfoundlanders and Labradorians as our school and pharmacists across the province take a very active role in delivering care that maximizes the use of every health-care dollar.”

Two members of the School of Pharmacy's Class of 2019 cut the cake with Premier Dwight Ball.
Two members of the School of Pharmacy’s Class of 2019 cut the cake with Premier Dwight Ball.
Photo: Chris Hammond

Bree Besaw, Class of 2019, received her white coat during the ceremony. She says she was extremely nervous leading up to the event, but her fears were quickly eased.

“I felt very much accepted within the pharmacy community throughout the ceremony, and having Premier Ball in attendance was exciting,” she said. “It gives me inspiration that I will practise in a province where the government supports the continued efforts of pharmacists.”

Expanded scope of pharmacy practice has been moving rapidly in Newfoundland and Labrador.

“Just a few years ago, pharmacists in Newfoundland and Labrador could not provide flu shots, do therapeutic substitutions, assess and prescribe for minor ailments,” said Stephen Green, president, Pharmacists Association of Newfoundland and Labrador. “Our goal is that the expertise and knowledge of pharmacists be fully used in the delivery of health-care services, benefiting both patients and the health-care system.”

Premier shares a joke

Premier Ball was clearly at home.

After receiving his honorary white coat from Dr. Marra, Premier Ball delivered a heartfelt address to the students that summarized his career and highlighted his insights on changing careers from pharmacy to politics.

“There’s a story I’d like to tell,” he recalled with a smile. “It goes back to 2011 after the provincial election. Late that night, I received a call from a very close friend of mine, and he said to me, ‘Well done, Dwight’—and I knew there was a ‘but’ coming—‘Tonight you’ve left the most trusted profession and have now just entered into the least trusted profession.’

“This profession has been very kind to me over the past 30 years,” he continued. “I know how rewarding it is to make a difference to the lives of people, and part of my job is to take some of the memories and learnings that I’ve had as a pharmacist and bring that trust back into politics.

“Certainly what is not lost on me is that we need to expand the scope of practice of all our health-care professionals, and when I reach out and speak, I deliver this challenge no matter what the profession is—if it’s a nurse or a physician or a pharmacist—we need to make sure that we challenge our young, educated health-care professionals to make them the very best they can be, and that is how we will bring the improvements that we so desperately need within our health-care system.”

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