The 30th DPT Class Dons Their White Coats

On August 28, 2015, 36 students were cloaked by their second-year mentors and read the Physical Therapy Oath of Professionalism at the White Coat Ceremony. The Class of 2017 was chosen from a pool of 621 applicants. This year’s class will be the 30th graduating class of the doctor of physical therapy program.

Lonny Davis served as the keynote speaker for the event. Davis is the Founder and CEO of Hope Haven West, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping provide mobility to the disabled in developing countrdeans_letter_fall15_pt_wcc_wearing_coat_webies. Hope Haven volunteers collect used or discarded wheelchairs, which they then refurbish. The wheelchairs are then distributed to those who otherwise could not afford one. Their efforts are focused on Mexico, Central America and South America.

Davis delivered an inspirational speech to the PT students, faculty and guests. Davis shared short stories about his work helping the disabled throughout the world by providing and customizing mobility devices. Physical Therapy (PT) second year student, Teresa Li ’16 reported, “Lonnie encouraged us to keep the end goal in mind. What we are working and studying for is for the sake of our patients. The end goal is to benefit patients and the communities we serve.”

Casey Nesbit PT, DPT, DSc, PCS reinforced Davis’ challenge for the future DPTs to look beyond themselves to the community, both locally and abroad: “An important aspect of our professionalism is to use the knowledge and skills of physical therapy to make a difference in the lives of those in our global, as well as local communities.”

There are urgent needs right here in our own backyard. Over the past five years the School has partnered with Kaiser Permanente and the San Joaquin County Office of Education to deliver the Healthy Children program. This program seeks to address the pressing issue of childhood obesity. Nesbit stresses that this issue is “particularly troubling, because it can disrupt development and can perpetuate unhealthful behaviors that last a lifetime. [..] Through targeting at-risk children in our area, we hope to mitigate the effects of childhood obesity in the short-term and in generations to come. During the past five years, our Healthy Children program has provided services for almost 10,000 at-risk young people in our area. We also have served approximately 1,600 members of the community at the Pacific Family Health Fair.”

Special Remarks were presented by Danielle Sartori ‘06, DPT, recipient of the 2015 Physical Therapy Alumna of the Year Award. As President of the Pacific Physical Therapy Alumni Association she speaks from experience when she says “The relationships that you form here will continue to be a part of your lives as you embark on your professional journey. You will always be connected in Tiger spirit and supported by your fellow practitioners.”

Sartori understands the world of athletics from many angles. As an athlete she played a wide variety of sports including soccer, swimming and water polo. She has also approached athletics from the perspective of a coach and currently is a Goalie Coach for USA Water Polo. She is both a Physical Therapist and Sports Performance Director at TKJ Sports Performance and Physical Therapy in the Bay Area. She affirms that the field of physical therapy is “extremely gratifying.” She has found that “There are many paths one can take, and each one has the goal of promoting a patient’s optimal physical function”

Sartori believes that there are three key components to physical therapy: evaluate, educate and exercise. She explains, “These components contribute to a successful relationship between patient and physical therapist because they create an environment of knowledge and trust.” She encouraged the upcoming doctors in physical therapy to be “enthusiastic, inquisitive and observant.”


Inaugural Doctor of Audiology White Coat Ceremony

80% Science and 20% Art

Over 120 faculty, staff, family and friends came to witness the momentous occasion of the 23 doctor of audiology students receiving their white coats. The ceremony on September 28, 2015, ushered the inaugural class into the next step of their educational journey. Audiology Program Director Rupa Balachandran, PhD, explained the significance by saying, “White coats are symbolic of the professionalism that is expected of students in all clinical professions. This ceremony reaffirms the community’s support of the educational process that prepares future health care professionals for practice. The White Coat placed on each of our future audiologists today is more than a just a lab coat – it is a cloak of competence, caring and community.”

Pacific’s doctor of audiology program, located at San Francisco Campus, is a new program in the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. It is one of four accelerated programs in the country and the only one in California. Its clinics, Pacific Hearing and Balance Centers in San Francisco and Stockton, along with anticipated collaborations with many Northern California medical and audiology centers, provide students with clinical experience and residencies.

deans_letter_fall15__Audiology-WCC_walking_webKim Lody, President of ReSound, served as the event’s keynote speaker. She emphasized the level of commitment required to succeed in this emerging field. Lody explained, “It will require that you stretch yourselves and reach for new levels of understanding in physiology, technology, and the psychology of helping others. You’ll learn new skills, techniques and new ways of interacting with people. And you’ll do that through a fresh, progressive program designed not only with the current health care environment in mind, but more importantly, with a focus on the future of audiology.”

She drew a comparison between audiology and art. She believes, “Audiology is 80% science and 20% art.” Further, “It requires that you read people so you can identify their true needs […]. Being an audiologist, just like being an artist, requires genuine curiosity about the world around you and the devotion to capture moments.”

In his address Dean Oppenheimer also correlated art and audiology with an anecdote about the sculptor Michelangelo. “The profession of Audiology is founded on precision and detail. You must understand that attention to detail will make a difference. In patient care, we can expect nothing less than greatness.”

In his welcome Dean Oppenheimer told the students “You are joining a wonderful family today, the Pacific Audiology family. The lofty status of the School is due to the academic quality of our students, their subsequent success as alumni, and the commitment to excellence of our faculty.” Dean Oppenheimer stressed the importance of shifting focus away from one’s grades and toward one’s patients. He said, “You are studying so that daily you will make positive interventions in your patient’s care.”

deans_letter_fall15_audiology_wcc_group_webThe event held special significance as these 23 individuals are trailblazers, both for the University of the Pacific and for the state of California. Touching on the world of opportunity that is open to these future professionals Lody gave some examples of the abundant opportunities that audiology offers. “Whether it’s an app to help manage tinnitus, a feature to geotag settings to a favorite coffee shop environment, or a multitude of biometric data and personalized interaction, there’s so much more to be discovered, developed and deployed to help people with hearing loss.”

Lody left the students with a challenge to take the time to reflect on the significance of this event and to ask themselves, “How will you utilize the trust that is placed in you by the patients seeking your help and expertise? Will you dedicate yourself to the art of helping others capture those moments that, for them, have been to that point in time, unnoticed, unrecognized and unheard?”

See more photos from the event at

For more information about Pacific’s doctor of audiology program visit To schedule a visit to the San Fransisco campus please


Welcome to the Family – The 2015 Pharmacy White Coat Ceremony

deans_letter_pharmacy_wcc_2015_webThe Pharmacy White Coat Ceremony on September 12, 2015, held special significance for PharmD student Anthony Garcia ’18. For him, personally donning the white coat brought with it a strong feeling of being “a part of a family.” He expressed that to become part of Pacific’s pharmacy family is “why I’ve worked so hard.” Garcia explains that the ceremony marks “your transition from a student to a professional.” From his perspective, there is also a transition from an atmosphere of competition to one of collaboration. As an undergraduate the focus is on grade and selling your academic achievement. In contrast, as a professional there is a common goal to help people.

When Garcia took Organic Chemistry as an undergraduate, a course notorious of its level of difficulty, he approached the course from the perspective that he was going to conquer the course’s negative stigma. That course had a dramatic impact on the direction of his academic career. He became a Pharmacy Technician and later went to UC Davis where he studied Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

While at UC Davis he was introduced to the Pacific community as Pacific was a partner for several Medicare events. He chose Pacific’s PharmD program because he got the distinct impression that it was a “tightly knit” community unlike any he had seen at other schools. That impression has “held true” and he says that he has “formed really close relationships with other students.” Another factor that led him here was the recommendation of alumni. During his time as a Pharmacy Technician he worked with several pharmacists that had gone through the program at Pacific who expressed that “they valued their education here.”

He strongly believes that “if you have resources you should share them,” as your strengths can help support others’ weaknesses and vice versa. By coming to the doctoral program with a background in pharmacy he is able to approach his studies with a foundational understanding of pharmaceuticals, chemistry and biology. This allows him to help others in the PharmD program in unique ways. For example, when it comes time to memorize drugs he has the advantage of experience and is able to help his classmates study for that portion of the exam.

In addition to having a background in science, Garcia is able to use his personal experiences to shape his approach to patient interactions. Garcia grew up in very underserved areas. This unique perspective gives him the opportunity to teach his fellow students about the psychological aspects that affect those individuals who are from underserved areas. Garcia strongly believes that a pharmacist cannot provide the patient with the proper treatment if one has preformed judgements. He warns against being influenced by negative stigmas and having a mindset of expecting the worst from certain individuals. He emphasizes, “You will never find the underlying issue if you don’t have the sympathy.”

Addressing current and future students, Garcia’s advice is to find a good support base, people you can rely on. He says “don’t be afraid to look for resources, scholarships or support groups.” He thinks that a lot of people are afraid to ask for help. As a student not asking for help can make the process of earning your degree incredibly difficult; as a professional it could be very dangerous. He believes that “the only way to get through this profession and have a good time doing it is to find a support group.”

The keynote speaker at the ceremony was Douglas Hillblom ’77 PharmD, Pacific Pharmacy Alumni Association Alumnus of the Year, who currently is the Vice President of Professional Practice and Pharmacy Policy for Optum Rx. His many achievements include 2014 California Pharmacists Association Pharmacist of the Year. A very active alumnus, many know him as a supportive mentor and trusted advisor. Echoing Garcia’s sentiment regarding patient care, Hillblom said in his address that “Being a Pharmacist is not a just a job it is a caring profession where each and every day you can impact someone’s life.” Further, “the future is wide open for each of you, and your practice will be dependent on the goals you set for yourself and the risks you are willing to take.”

Hillblom urged the students to be leaders in their field. “Innovation and leadership are qualities that Pacific pharmacists have continually demonstrated as the profession and our responsibilities as members of the patient care team continue to evolve.” The Class of 2018 has already proven themselves to meet the School’s standard for academic achievement and commitment to the service to others. The 208 students were chosen from a competitive pool of almost 1,400 applicants.

Echoing the feeling of family expressed by Garcia, Hillblom shared, “As members of the Pacific family and specifically the Pharmacy School Alumni Association, never forget we are here for you as supporters and mentors.” Hillblom closed with “Welcome to the family, your future starts today.”

To learn how to contribute to the ongoing legacy of the Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences please go to or contact Nancy DeGuire at 209.946.2752. To learn more about the PharmD program go to or contact Ron Espejo at 209.946.3957. For alumni interested in learning how to become a mentor contact Sarah Higgins at or 209.946.2545.


Physical Therapy White Coat Ceremony Honors Class of 2016

The 5th Annual Thomas J. Long School of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Doctor of Physical Therapy White Coat Ceremony was held on August 29, 2014 at the DeRosa University Center Ballroom.

The anticipation leading up to the ceremony was exciting to witness, all of the smiling and proud faces of students and parents alike. Everyone waiting for the ceremony to begin gathered into the DeRosa University Center’s lobby taking pictures.

The class of 2016 came in their best dresses and suits. Parents and families slowly entered, looking for the best seats. As the ceremony was beginning, everyone’s attention turned towards the two doors that opened up for the students entering in an orderly fashion. There was no hiding the priceless expressions on the students’ faces as they looked in to the audience and saw their loved ones clapping and looking up at them in awe.

Class of 2016 member is cloaked with his white coat by his second-year buddy.
Class of 2016 member is cloaked with his white coat by his second-year buddy.

Dr. Sandra Reina-Guerra ’97, ’99, ’03, Chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, opened the ceremony with a few words and introduced Dr. Eric Boyce, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. Dr. Boyce shared a story that touched the audience but must have been particularly inspiring to the class of 2016 and their mentors. His 86 year old father suffered from a viral health issue and with the help of a home visiting physical therapist he was able to help his father walk within a week. He described his father as being “independent because of the physical therapist.” Words of encouragement and gratefulness did not stop there. There “has to be trust, some benefits and relationship between the patients and the care provider,” continued Dr. Boyce. With his closing remarks he simply put that it is “no longer about you, it’s about the patient you serve.”

The warmth filled the room and more words of inspiration continued as Dr. Todd Davenport, Associate Professor of Physical Therapy, introduced the night’s keynote speaker, Michael Tubbs, the 6th District City Councilmember for Stockton, Ca. He opened his address with stating the fact that “Stockton is facing a lot of health challenges and in the San Joaquin County, Stockton is at a 30% poverty rate and 60% don’t have high school diplomas.” He connected health and education because these things are basic human needs. People lash out because they may be ill-educated or suffering from health problems that can be solved by simple medications or doctor visits. Tubbs proposed a challenge to the students as they enter the next chapter in their lives of physical therapy. “I want to challenge everyone to move towards justice.” Justice meaning, when we see an injured person on the sidewalk, do not simply walk away, offer your help. Simple action such as this not only shows our care for mankind but also shapes us into better individuals.

Class of 2016 members gather outside after the ceremony.
Class of 2016 members gather outside after the ceremony.

The event also served as an opportunity to recognize the Alumna of the Year award recipient. This year Dr. Josephine “Jody” Nance ’90, ’03 was acknowledged as the “2014 Physical Therapy Alumna of the Year.” Dr. Nance opened her speech with quotes from a motivational video she found on YouTube about the topic of why we fall. No one understands the late nights and the strenuous study sessions like Dr. Nance. “You have to sacrifice what you are for what you will become,” an everlasting statement she made to the students. This wisdom not only applies to the physical therapy class but to so many aspects of our lives.

Following the speakers, was the cloaking of the class of 2016. Family members excitedly stood up with their cameras ready. Flashes, applauses, and words of encouragement were exchanged as the students walked onto the stage to be cloaked with their white coats by their second year mentors. Congratulations to another brilliant class!

In the words of Michael Tubbs: “What are you prepared to do today so that 50 years from now another child will have the opportunity to become a physical therapist?”

The White Coat Ceremony is generously sponsored by Kaiser Permanente through The Healthy Children Grant which intends to combat obesity in the community.