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The MCW Pharmacy School Officially Welcomes the Inaugural Class of 2020 with Traditional White Coat Ceremony

Learn more about the passion that drives our inaugural students to become the Pharmacists of the Future.

The MCW Pharmacy School Welcomes Inaugural Class

Meet the Class of 2020
The desire to have high quality, team-based education at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) was fulfilled this August as the School of Pharmacy’s inaugural class was officially welcomed to the first new school at MCW in more than 20 years.

On August 11, the MCW School of Pharmacy’s inaugural class of 48 students participated in a White Coat Ceremony at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts in Milwaukee, followed by a welcome reception at the Bradley Pavilion. At the ceremony, each student received the traditional short white lab coat worn by pharmacy students-in-training, and were "coated" by their MCW School of Pharmacy faculty mentors.

The white coat worn by a pharmacist serves as a beacon for those seeking health and wellness throughout our communities. It identifies the wearer as an individual with unique knowledge and expertise about medications, their use, side effects and outcomes across patient populations. 

MCW faculty and staff, fellow health care professionals and the students' loved ones filled the seats at the Wilson Theatre at Vogel Hall within the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. The program included remarks from John R. Raymond, Sr., MD, President and CEO of MCW, Joseph E. Kerschner, MD, Provost and Executive Vice President, Dean of the School of Medicine at MCW and Steven Bergin, MD, Physician at Aspirus Health Care System and Former MCW Board Trustee, who all shared greetings to welcome the new students.

“This ceremony is a rite of passage for first year pharmacy students and a demonstration of the tradition associated with becoming a pharmacist,” said Dr. Raymond, “During the ceremony, our newest pharmacy students will pledge to always do their best for their patients and for society.”

Robert O. Balza, Jr., PhD “05, Associate Professor of Biology at Wisconsin Lutheran College, delivered greetings on behalf of the alumni and shared some words of wisdom with the new students. “Take advantage of the fact that you’re training at a top 10 academic medical center, start making interdisciplinary connections your first week. Make meaningful connections with people who are different from you,” said Dr. Balza.

The MCW School of Pharmacy curriculum incorporates longitudinal interprofessional education (IPE), where pharmacy students interact and learn with other healthcare students and professionals. MCW Pharmacy, Medical and Master of Science of Anesthesiology students already participated in their first interprofessional team-building activity on the very first day of Orientation on August 7th.  The School of Pharmacy IPE curriculum includes both experiences in the classroom and exposures in laboratory and clinic settings.

Donald Letendre, PharmD, Dean and Professor of the University of Iowa College of Pharmacy delivered the keynote speech at the White Coat Ceremony. He reminded students of the honor of being a member of an inaugural class and passed along some additional advice for the students. "You only get to make a first impression once," said Dr. Letendre.

Terry Maves, RPh, a pharmacy member of the Wisconsin Pharmacy Examining Board, led the students as they recited the Oath of a Pharmacist, promising to devote themselves to a lifetime of service to others through the profession of pharmacy.

George E. MacKinnon III, PhD, MS, RPh, FASHP, Founding Dean and Professor of the MCW School of Pharmacy delivered the closing remarks. “As pharmacists, you will truly have the opportunity to come out from behind the counter, lay your hands and stethoscopes on patients and to perform physical assessments for chronic disease management,” said Dr. MacKinnon.

The aim of the MCW School of Pharmacy is not only to educate the pharmacists of the future, but also create new and innovative practice models and interprofessional health care teams that leverage the role of the pharmacist to deliver patient-centered care with improved health outcomes. The MCW School of Pharmacy is the only three-year PharmD program in the Midwest that is located at an academic medical center, providing access to world-renowned resources at Froedtert Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and partnerships with the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center for students and faculty alike.