October 26, 2017

Students Commit to Quality Care in White Coat Ceremonies

Addressing the 140 undergraduate and graduate students who were coated at the February 5, 2017 ceremony, keynote speaker Jane H. White, Ph.D., the College’s associate dean for research, said that the three million registered nurses in the United States today represent the most trusted profession.

“The annual Gallup Poll surveying the public’s view of various professions rates nursing as the most trusted profession because of our high standards and ethics,” she noted.

Borrowing a phrase used to describe American astronauts in the 1960s, Dr. White asked, “What is ‘the right stuff?’ What does it take to be a nurse?” She said those ingredients are heart, soul, mind and body.

“To be a nurse requires the heart— empathy, compassion—the soul—a moral compass pointing toward integrity and ethical decision making—and the mind— the science—practicing from evidence, with expertise, experience and oftentimes with a nurse’s intuition,” Dr. White explained.

As for the body, she said, “Sustaining the ‘right stuff’ will mean a constant awareness of your own health. Right now you are, hopefully, beginning to adjust to the rigor required,” she told the students. “Remember to be balanced—have fun, eat right, sleep enough. Learn and practice those health and balancing skills now,” she added, since an unbalanced self can also have a negative impact on one’s patients.

A smaller ceremony for accelerated B.S. in Nursing students took place in May 2017.

A total of 145 students participated in another White Coat event, spread across two days—September 7 and September 8, 2016.

At the inaugural ceremony in October 2015, Patrick R. Coonan ’78, Ed.D., dean, explained, “White Coat Ceremonies in the medical profession mark the transition from regular study into the clinical component of a student’s education. We want our students to understand compassion, caring and empathy.”

The 2015 event marked the start of what is becoming an honorable tradition, due to funding by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and American Association of Colleges of Nursing. White Coat Ceremonies signify an important new stage in learning and emphasize students’ commitment to high-quality patient care.

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