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In 2010, the UQ School of Pharmacy held its inaugural "First Year Engagement Ceremony", the first of its kind in Australia.

The concept has been adapted from similar ceremonies undertaken in pharmacy (and medical) schools around North America, and sees 1st Year Bachelor of Pharmacy students presented with a white dispensing coat and a written "Statement of Commitment".

The idea behind the engagement ceremony is to welcome our incoming pharmacy students to not only the school, but importantly to the profession as a whole.

In a nutshell, the students are given a dispensing coat by the school, followed by the recital of the Statement of Commitment, whereby they promise to uphold the principles of the profession and a focus on health care throughout their university studies and beyond. A number of distinguished guests from the profession and our alumni then shake hands with the students and welcome them to the “family”.

We see the ceremony as our opportunity to provide the students with some sense of the history, pride and professionalism that is pharmacy and highlight the responsibility and crucial role we play in the community. We hope it will give them a sense of community, as students and as health professionals in training.

The 'coat' itself is designed to be used as a symbol of professionalism and a commitment to health care provision. Students will wear the coat in the professional components of the course, including in counselling and dispensing tutorials and for their oral exams. It will be an expected requirement for these session and we hope will reinforce some sense of responsibility and accountability in the students.

Pharmacy is such a wonderful profession, steeped in history and with an exciting and challenging future – this ceremony is to remind the students that they are a critical part of it.

The ceremony has since been adopted as an annual event, sponsored by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (Queensland Branch).  The event will be held in March.