Aug. 22, 2017 | On a recent trip, Grazyna Nowak, Ph.D., was reluctant to switch rooms when the hotel management asked if she would, she said Aug. 18 at the White Coat Ceremony for the UAMS College of Pharmacy Class of 2021.
A professor in the college’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and a recipient of the 2017 Pharmaceutical Sciences Outstanding Faculty Award, Nowak was the keynote speaker at the ceremony.
“I was happy with my room, enjoyed the surroundings, and appreciated the company of friendly birds that visited my balcony to ask for treats,” she said.
Despite her misgivings, Nowak decided to take a chance and embrace the possibility the room might be even better than her first one.
She started to regret her choice when she found the pathway to the new room was dull and also required passing by a noisy maintenance facility. Regret faded fast however when she opened the door.
“Across from me was a view I will never forget,” Nowak said. “It was a view of beautiful lush green mountains and tall waterfalls cascading down vertical cliffs; a view of nature free of any signatures of civilization, a view almost too perfect to be real.”
Because often we don’t like change and are uncomfortable with the unknown, we hesitate to recognize and seize opportunities, she said.
“Life presents you an opportunity now — one offered only to those who have been persistent and motivated, who have worked hard to learn a lot, who have the qualities necessary to become a health care professional,” Nowak said to the first-year students.
She said four years ago, the profession of pharmacist was ranked the third best profession in the nation based on 10-year growth volume, median salary, employment rate, future job prospects, opportunities for training and advancement, stress level and work-life balance.
Pharmacy isn’t limited to the retail environment, Nowak explained. Although rewards are there, too, pharmacy graduates have a diversity of other career paths from which to choose, including chemotherapy pharmacy, nuclear pharmacy, drug development, long-term care and education.
After Nowak spoke, the 123 students in the Class of 2021 one by one walked on stage to put on white coats to mark symbolically the beginning of their four years of study and their transition into the life of a student-pharmacist.
“Your white coat stands out because it is important to your patient care, it is a sign of caring, a sign of compassion for your patients,” College of Pharmacy Dean Keith Olsen, Pharm. D., said. “By donning the white coat, your patients expect the utmost professionalism from each of us. They expect the best every day. I have no doubt each of you will thrive in your white coat and in the College of Pharmacy.”
Sponsored by the Arkansas Pharmacists Association (APA), it was the college’s 15th annual White Coat Ceremony. Representing the APA at the ceremony was Scott Pace, Pharm. D., the association’s executive vice president and CEO.
About 600 people attended, including college faculty and staff, and friends and family.
Following the keynote address, Meghan Petersen, president of the UAMS American Pharmacists Association-Academy of Student Pharmacists UAMS Chapter, led the Class of 2021 in reciting the Student Pledge of Professionalism.
The average grade point average of the incoming class, which includes 49 males and 74 females, was 3.46.