ACP Welcomes First Year Pharmacy Students; White Coat Ceremony Held

OAKWOOD, VA (August 25, 2023) – First year pharmacy students arrived on the campus of the Appalachian College of Pharmacy Wednesday to begin their studies leading to a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in Virginia’s only three-year doctor of pharmacy program.

Students in the incoming class of 2026 represent seven different states including Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida and North Dakota. The Class of 2026 also includes one student from Puerto Rico and one student from Canada.

ACP’s traditional white coat ceremony, signifying first year class members’ entrance into the profession of pharmacy, was held in the ACP gymnasium Friday morning. ACP President Mickey McGlothlin welcomed students and their family members and friends to the ceremony, noting “this is the day our students formally begin their journey to become pharmacists.”

ACP Provost and Dean Susan Mayhew introduced Dr. Jordan Smith, an ACP alumna of the Class of 2016, as the speaker for the ceremony which concluded with first year students receiving their white coats and the administration of the Oath of a Pharmacist.

Smith, who is a licensed pharmacist in five states, has received numerous association awards during her career as a pharmacist since graduating from ACP seven years ago, including Community Pharmacist of the Year from the Indiana Pharmacy Association in 2023; and the American Pharmacists Association Immunization Award — Individual Practitioner in 2022. A native of Versailles, Ky., she is also a graduate of Eastern Kentucky University.

After working as a pharmacy manager in Kentucky and Ohio following graduation, she began working for Walgreens in 2020 and in November 2022, she transitioned to the Walgreens Pharmacy Support Center as a healthcare supervisor on special assignment with the patient outcomes team overseeing execution and change management as it relates to the expanded care model, clinical services, adherence programs and new service pilots across the Walgreens portfolio of roughly 9,000 pharmacies.

In June, she was elected to a three-year term on the Kentucky Pharmacists Association board of directors.

“It’s been an amazing journey,” Smith said looking back from where she is now to where she started as a pharmacy student at ACP.

“This college chose you to sit in these seats,” she told members of the Class of 2026.

She told students their support system was there in the faculty and staff seated behind them which would be there to guide them in the days and years ahead.

She urged students to take advantage of every opportunity they have and she congratulated them for being there. She advised students to become involved in advocacy for the profession and she reminded them they are each their own advocates. She urged them to get involved at ACP, to build relationships which she added would also help them to build perspective.

Smith also reminded students now is the time to begin networking. She urged them to create LinkedIn profiles if they have not already done so and to  grow those networks with their classmates, by the people they choose to follow and through following the pharmacy industry.

She advised students to be vulnerable enough to say when they needed help and she urged them to “never stop learning.”

“We don’t know what we don’t know,” she said. “Change is constant and it’s our individual responsibility to continue to teach ourselves. It’s the best way to take care of patients. Continue to learn and to keep up with changes.”

Smith concluded by advising students “to get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

“Be okay with trying new things and not being good at it,” she said. “It is by doing that you get better at it. Don’t shy away from opportunity — take it. I would not be where I am today without the opportunity afforded to me here 10 years ago. This is where it all started for me. I hope you can look back and that this college will hold a special place in your heart, as it does in mine.”

The ceremony Friday concluded with McGlothlin acknowledging Walgreens for its sponsorship of the event as he wished each of the students success in their journey to becoming pharmacists.

Dr. Ted W. Hagen, II, chaplain and clinical  professor, gave the invocation and the benediction and Denise McGeorge sang the National Anthem and provided music for the ceremony. Mayhew presided over the presentation of white coats to students and administered to Oath of a Pharmacist.

During opening day activities Wednesday, Mayhew told students that in making the decision to attend ACP, they had chosen well.

Mayhew told students the fact that they were sitting in an ACP classroom was evidence, “we believe you will be successful in this program.” She added, “you are responsible for learning and we help to facilitate that. You control the degree of success you have in this program.”

The keys to that success, she said, are good study habits, time management and balance.

“Consider this program your full-time job for the next three years,” she said, adding that developing good study habits from the start and being disciplined in maintaining those make all the difference.

Mayhew noted the three-year program at ACP is fast-paced, but she added, “everyone here has the ability to be successful, or you would not be sitting here today. From this day onward, you are an ambassador for the Appalachian College of Pharmacy and for the profession of pharmacy.”

Throughout the week, students took part in orientation sessions focusing on a variety of topics — from curriculum, experiential education and technology policies, computer usage and software training to student services, money management, community service and campus safety. A business services fair was held in the gymnasium on Thursday.

The Appalachian College of Pharmacy is the only three-year Doctor of Pharmacy program in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Founded in 2003, the college accepted its first students in 2005. It is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). Its mission is to cultivate a learning community committed to education, community outreach and the professional development of pharmacists. Its graduate pharmacists are now practicing throughout the United States.

Back to All News