White Coats Signal Green Light for Pharmacy School
There was a sense of exhilaration among the 41 students who made up the inaugural class of The University of Texas at El Paso’s School of Pharmacy during the group’s White Coat Ceremony on Oct. 26, 2017, in UTEP’s Magoffin Auditorium. It was a milestone that they shared with an audience of friends, family, faculty, University administrators and special community guests. The students accepted their white coats, which represented service, clinical care and professionalism, and recited the Oath of a Pharmacist.
“I felt so happy,” said Ranielle Espinoza, an El Paso native who had dreamed of being a pharmacist since she was 7 years old and trying to understand the medications her mother needed to overcome a serious eye issue. “I was starting a new journey.”
After the ceremony, attendees moved to an open house at UTEP’s Campbell Building. Well-wishers received tours of the state-of-the-art labs created for the students. They included the IV-Admixture and Compounding teaching labs, research labs and the Student Success Center, which includes a mock retail pharmacy and clinic.
Espinoza, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences with a biomedical concentration from UTEP in 2014, said she looked forward to being part of the medical team that can enhance health care on the border.
The White Coat Ceremony was the latest watershed moment for the school. The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education granted the school precandidate status in July 2017. The school, which offers a doctorate in pharmacy, provides a unique curriculum that promotes Spanish proficiency, cultural sensitivity and a primary care emphasis.
It is the first of its kind on the Texas-Mexico border and is among the few pharmacy schools at a Hispanic-Serving Institution. While the majority of the inaugural class is from the Paso del Norte region, school officials expect to draw future students from around the country.
“We are very proud of where we are and where we are going,” said José O. Rivera, Pharm.D., the school’s founding dean and a UTEP educator and administrator since 1996. “Our faculty and staff are committed to create the ideal pharmacist.” - Daniel Perez