Coat design to reflect cultural competence

University of Otago School of Pharmacy entrants for 2024 wear their new white coats on Saturday....
University of Otago School of Pharmacy entrants for 2024 wear their new white coats on Saturday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
A special new design on their white coats has been created to remind the next generation of pharmacy students of the strength and stability they will need in their careers.

University of Otago School of Pharmacy students had their induction into the school with a white coat ceremony on Saturday.

After completing first-year health science, 102 Otago students and seven International Medical University of Malaysia students are entering the course for the professional qualification.

Associate dean Natalie Hughes said the new white coats featured a design from artist of Kai Tahu descent Ross Hemera and the aim of his work was to reflect cultural competence in the qualification.

"His designs drew inspiration from the unique landscape, the culture in the South Island and, in particular, the reference plants and minerals grown and used in traditional Maori medicines."

Ms Hughes said the artwork on the coats was to commemorate the students embarking on their journeys to become pharmacists.

"It’s positioned on your back and that speaks to strength and stability and you will need to use this to advocate for health equity."

Each year the students would receive something new to add to their coats that would symbolise their growth and development.

Pharmacy researcher Leanne Te Karu received an honorary white coat and encouraged the students to think broadly and create roles for areas in pharmacy they may be interested in.

"Think about these things as you go through the next three years — what things in your placement might flick your switch.

"Don’t wait for for things to come to you, because they won’t."