White-coat ceremony marks beginning of the new UNT System College of Pharmacy in Fort Worth

Posted Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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Growing up in Cameroon, Tabi Eyambe watched sick patients create homemade concoctions to relieve their ailments, aches and pains.

It was not until he moved to the United States in 2006 that Eyambe, now 25, first witnessed an actual pharmacy. He was in awe.

“I immediately loved everything about pharmacies,” Eyambe said. “I love the professionalism and the idea of helping people and providing health care.”

On Saturday, Eyambe joined the inaugural class of the new UNT System College of Pharmacy in a white-coat ceremony at UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth. Classes begin Monday.

This marks the first pharmacy school in North Texas and the only one in the state situated on the campus of an academic health science center, which university leaders say will allow pharmacy students to train alongside future physicians, biomedical researchers and other health professionals already studying here.

About 80 students recited the Pharmacy Oath before receiving their white coats, a symbol of professionalism and responsibility. Students in health care professions traditionally receive white lab coats at the beginning of their training.

Thomas Moorman, vice president for Student Affairs, urged students to consider the coat’s significance.

“This is about values, and it is about remembering our values,” Moorman said. “Wearing a white coat, you will be trusted. You will be seen as a leader.”

Thomas Menighan, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American Pharmacists Association, said pharmacists have an increasingly important role in providing health care. Pharmacists, he told students, should consider themselves problem solvers and innovators.

“We make health care better,” said Menighan, who delivered the keynote address. “That is what pharmacists do.”

The roughly 80 students in the inaugural Class of 2017 were selected from some 350 applicants. The majority of them are from Texas, with the largest block coming from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Eyambe, who graduated from the University of Texas at Arlington in 2011, said he was elated when he learned a pharmacy school was opening in Fort Worth.

“The timing was so perfect,” said Eyambe, who worked as a pharmacy technician throughout his undergraduate years. “Everything fell into place.”

The College of Pharmacy will integrate research, medication management and teamwork across health care professions. Under the direction of Myron Jacobson, its founding dean, the program will aim to emphasize the importance between patient and pharmacist.

That idea drew Desiree Jurenci, 30, of Plano, to apply to the school. Jurenci, who became interested in health care after her stepfather was diagnosed with bone and blood cancer, found pharmacy provided the ideal combination of laboratory work and patient interaction.

“I am dedicated to helping patients be proactive in their health care and preventative care decisions,” Jurenci said. “A pharmacist has the ability to reach people on a close, personal level.”

The pharmacy school curriculum will include three years of classroom instruction, laboratory work and early clinical experiences and one year of advanced clinical rotations. At the end of four years, students will receive a doctorate of pharmacy.

After receiving her white coat, Danielle Dunne, 24, snapped photos with her parents, siblings and friends. Dunne’s mother, Janelle, has worked for the past 15 years as a pharmacy technician.

The mother and daughter were in a Target parking lot when they learned Dunne had been accepted to the college, and they both cried.

“I am so excited,” Dunne said, laughing. “I can’t wait for class to start Monday.”

Sarah Bahari, 817-390-7056 Twitter: @sarahbfw

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