A new tradition for the School of Nursing unfolded on September 1, when Quinnipiac University’s inaugural White Coat Ceremony for Nursing celebrated 243 nursing students as they begin their transition to clinical rotations and caregiving roles.
With the help of their advisers, students from the Class of 2025 traditional BSN program and the August Class of the 2024 Accelerated BSN program slipped into their new white coats for the first time during a morning ceremony on the North Haven Campus.
School of Nursing Dean Larry Slater welcomed the nursing students to the program’s first ceremony, which will become a tradition for the School of Nursing.
“You are the trailblazers, the first to have a White Coat Ceremony,” said Slater. “What we are celebrating today is your transition into your clinical sequence in nursing. You are now actually going to be going out there, hands-on, seeing your communities, taking care of patients, taking care of families, as you develop a skill set to become a nurse. You are receiving this white coat to signify that you are starting your journey to entering the nursing profession, which we hope will be a truly wonderful career for you.”
Senior Associate Dean Lisa Rebeschi introduced the ceremony’s keynote speaker, Yale New Haven Hospital Senior Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer Ena Williams.
Williams told the nursing students that this day and many days to come will be about experiencing transitions. As they continue their journey and the rigorous process of becoming a nurse, Williams encouraged the students to raise their hands to ask for deeper clarification or understanding.
“The rigorous process is necessary because people’s lives depend upon the knowledge, the skills and your ability to critically think, balance multiple priorities and discern when something is just not right. And that’s when you raise your hand and ask questions,” said Williams.
Williams also urged the students to continue to believe in themselves.
“You have what it takes to do this. You have come this far, and I have no doubt in my mind that you have what it takes. Let me remind you of all that you have done to get to this day,” Williams said. “The very things that got you here are the very things that I want you to reflect on as you progress. This is a moment of transition – probably one of the biggest moments of transition in your journey. This transition is a foundation to something that will last for years and years. It will change your life in ways that you never imagined. It will impact lives in ways that you cannot even imagine.”
Undergraduate Nursing Program Chair Teresa Twomey explained the origins of the White Coat Ceremony. It was established by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation in 1993 at the Columbia University Medical School to highlight the importance of humanism in the care of patients.
“In 2014, recognizing the vital role nurses play in the healthcare team, the Gold Foundation partnered with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to bring the White Coat Ceremony to nursing. Since then, over 360 schools of nursing now participate, including the Quinnipiac University School of Nursing, which is holding its inaugural ceremony today,” said Twomey.
Twomey said the white coat symbolizes the importance of compassionate, collaborative, scientifically excellent care from the student’s very first day of training.
“The receipt and placement of the white coat symbolizes the science of nursing; humanity and caring; the nursing students’ transition into professional nursing or advanced nursing practice; and a noble call to serve and to commit to making a difference in the lives of many, the betterment of healthcare, and promoting health for all,” said Twomey.
After donning their white coats, the 243 student nurses raised their right hands and collectively voiced the White Coat Ceremony Oath as members of the Quinnipiac University School of Nursing.
Slater asked the students to remember this day as the start of their professional journey, and the start of the development of their professional identity in nursing.
“We are excited about your future and what you are going to bring to the profession,” Slater said. “We are excited about the next year for you in nursing. We expect great things from you, and we are going to give you the tools to accomplish that upon graduation.”