White coat ceremonies in US schools of pharmacy

Ann Pharmacother. 2003 Oct;37(10):1414-9. doi: 10.1345/aph.1D124.


Background: Pharmacy and medical schools share similar concerns regarding the need to place greater emphasis on professional socialization. Many academic institutions of both professions have elected to establish a white coat ceremony to initiate the process of inculcating professional values. However, a recent literature search revealed little published information on pharmacy white coat ceremonies.

Objective: To determine the prevalence of white coat ceremonies in US schools of pharmacy and identify commonalities between ceremonies conducted at different schools.

Methods: In April 2002, a 25-question survey was sent via E-mail to the deans of the 83 accredited schools of pharmacy in the US. The survey solicited details about the nature of each school's white coat ceremony or reasons why the school does not conduct a ceremony.

Results: The first ceremony in pharmacy was held at the University of Kentucky in 1995. As of May 2002, 51 of the 83 schools had already conducted a white coat ceremony and another 10 indicated plans to initiate a ceremony by the end of the year. Telephone follow-up confirmed that, as of May 2003, the number had risen to 61 schools. Most schools conduct the ceremony during the first professional year. Common features include presentation of the coat, recitation of an oath, a speech by an honored guest, a class photograph, and a reception.

Conclusions: The white coat ceremony is a growing phenomenon in pharmacy education that could play a pivotal role in the quest to better achieve professional socialization among students.

MeSH terms

  • Clothing*
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Education, Pharmacy / trends*
  • Humans
  • Schools, Pharmacy / trends*
  • Socialization*
  • Symbolism*
  • United States