Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy graduated its sixth class of doctors of pharmacy during the School’s hooding ceremony on Friday, May 10. The event took place at 10 a.m. in Belk Auditorium on the main PC campus.
Seventy-four students earned their degrees and doctoral hoods.
“Today we celebrate each of the graduates of the Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy and recognize the hard work they have put in over the last four years,” said PC President Bob Staton. “Today these graduates join pharmacists across the world on the front line of health care.”
President Staton noted during his address how PC’s motto, “While We Live, We Serve,” aligns with the first sentence of the Oath of a Pharmacist: “I promise to devote myself to a lifetime of service to others through the profession of pharmacy.”
He reminded the graduates how important their work will be.
“Your patients will depend on your advice and counsel as they deal with their health issues. They will put their trust in you,” Staton said. “This is a big responsibility that you should never take lightly. Treat each patient like you would want to be treated.”
Remembering “Every Patient”
“This is a very special day, a very special moment in your lives,” Dr. Diane Ginsburg, professor and associate dean at the University of Texas College of Pharmacy, told the pharmacy graduates, during the keynote address.
“It is not the end of your professional and personal journey, but a true arrival at the crossroads, the next phase of the mark you’ll make on the profession.”
Ginsburg is internationally known for her work on ethics and the legal and regulatory aspects of pharmacy and healthcare. She was also recognized as one of the 10 most talented and inspiring professors at the University of Texas at Austin.
During her talk, Ginsburg shared a story that illustrated the duty the graduates will have to their patients. She remembers when her mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer nearly 22 years ago.
Ginsburg remembers these words appeared on her mother’s chart shortly after she was admitted to the hospital: “PG is a 60-year-old white female presenting with severe abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. CT scan showed a large mass in her pancreas with mets throughout her body.”
“Pretty chilling words because this was my mother,” Ginsburg said.
One of Ginsburg’s former students was attending to Ginsburg’s mother at the hospital. The student assured Ginsburg that she would get relief and would take care of her. When Ginsburg asked why he was being so nice to her, he replied, “… All I am doing is what you told me to do that very first day of pharmacy school. Your mother is my ‘every patient.’”
“I remember thinking in that moment that it would never matter what I did for the remainder of my professional life,” Ginsburg said. “I got through to one student who took care of my ‘every patient.’”
Ginsburg urged the graduates to remember why those chose to be pharmacists.
“On any given day,” she said, “stop and remember why you are doing what you are doing and look into the eyes of the people you are providing care for and hope that if someone significant to you needs care, they are fortunate enough to have a pharmacist who understands who every patient is.”
Ginsburg also encouraged the graduates to give back to their profession and to the community. She asked them to join a professional organization and to be involved in the change that takes place within their profession.
“You have a duty, a professional obligation, to get involved and advocate on behalf of the profession and ultimately the patients who have entrusted their care with you,” Ginsburg said.
She warned that some might ask them to question their professional values and compromise their integrity, but pleaded with them not to do so.
“At the end of the day, remember that the person you have to face in the mirror is you, and you want to make sure you are comfortable with the reflection you see,” Ginsburg said. “Once you compromise your values, your professional and personal integrity too, patients will be harmed, and you will too.”
Ginsburg shared lessons she learned from her mother and told them “there is no dress rehearsal.” Ginsburg urged the graduates to be passionate, dream big, and get out of their comfort zone.
“Enjoy the moments, special ones like today, and those that are big and small,” she said. “If you learn anything from what I have shared, I hope it is this: Remember that everything you have learned you will be able to apply to the care of these ‘every patients.’”
The 1,362-Day Journey
Katelyn Thomasson, the 2019 Distinguished Graduating Student, followed up Ginsburg’s speech with an inspiring speech of her own. Thomasson congratulated her classmates on all they’ve accomplished over the last 1,362 days.
“That is how many days it has been since August 17, 2015, we walked into PCSP for orientation and began this journey,” Thomasson said. “It’s difficult to comprehend how something that felt like an eternity to progress through flew by so quickly. How something so stressful and agonizing can, in turn, bring so much joy.”
Thomasson then went on to share a quote inspired by the Smush the Cat Instagram account: “Every single day is an adventure; try not to lose hope. Even the smallest victories are a cause for celebration. And remember, everyone has different battles to face so try to be kind.”
Thomasson shared one of the battles she’s facing herself: Thomasson was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last August. She says her classmates have helped her persevere, the same way the Class of 2019 have leaned on one another over the past four years.
“This group has been able to keep me driven and focused on the end goal as I have watched yall preserve to obtain despite all things, and for that, I am inspired to do the same,” Thomasson said.
The Granting of Degrees
PC Provost Dr. Donald Raber authorized the granting of the Pharm.D. degrees.
“Your collective achievements are most impressive, and I appreciate how much each of you has contributed to the PC family over your four years here on campus and out in different communities,” Raber said.
“My sincere wish for each of you is that your investment in us will pay dividends for you, as you embark on the next step in your career and achieve the lifetime of personal and vocational fulfillment and responsible contribution to democratic society and the world community Presbyterian College seeks for each graduate.”
After donning their pharmacy hoods and receiving their diplomas, the graduates officially entered the profession by reciting the “Oath of a Pharmacist.” They all promised to devote themselves “to a lifetime of service to others through the profession of pharmacy.”
Students Presented with Awards
Several students were recognized for their achievements during the 2018-2019 academic year.
“Pharmacy education has supporters on many fronts,” said Dr. Nancy Hope Goodbar, assistant dean for professional & student affairs, “and Presbyterian College is proud to partner with pharmaceutical companies and with leaders in drug information to recognize outstanding graduates from our program.”
Courtney Lawton received the Mylan Excellence in Pharmacy Award. The award is presented to a graduate who displays academic achievement, professional motivation, and a unique ability to communicate drug information.
Jackie Klenotiz and Jonathan Strickland received the Merck Manuals Award for Academic Excellence. The award recognizes Pharm.D. graduates who have demonstrated scholastic achievement and excellence in clinical interventions.
David Moore received the United States Public Health Service Excellence in Public Health Pharmacy Award. The award recognizes pharmacy students’ contributions to the pharmacy profession and public health.
Rebecca Howell received the Wolters Kluwer Health Award of Excellence in Clinical Communications. The award recognizes one student at each pharmacy school in the United States who has demonstrated superior verbal and written communication skills as well as high academic achievement overall.
Abigayle Campbell received the Presbyterian College Mortar & Pestle Award. The award recognizes the graduate who has best exemplified the mission and vision of the School of Pharmacy during his/her tenure by demonstrating an unwavering ethical foundation, positively impacting the delivery of equitable pharmacy care, providing enlightened leadership, addressing the healthcare needs of a diverse patient population, showing compassion for patients, and serving the community.
Students Earn Entrepreneurial Certificate
Hillary Stamps and Felicia Vielbaum earned their Certificate in Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Presbyterian College School of Pharmacy’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program provides students with educational and networking fundamentals to pursue entrepreneurial endeavors. PC pharmacy students may elect to participate in the wide array of educational and networking opportunities provided by the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program. Completion of 10 workshops during their four years in pharmacy school results in a certificate for their achievement.
Final Words from the Dean
“You took advantage of your opportunities to assist those in need while here at PC,” Dr. Cliff Duhrman, dean of the PC School of Pharmacy, said to the graduates to close the ceremony. “There will be many more opportunities over the course of your career to provide the quality health care so many people need each day. Also remember to provide service to others in your communities. Continue to persevere, continue to be dedicated, be involved and do not let those opportunities pass you, our profession, and most importantly, the patients, by.”
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