The University Of Rhode Island College Of Nursing has a new tradition with each incoming class when it welcomed the new students with a White Coat Ceremony. For more than twenty years, starting with Columbia University in 1993, White Coat ceremonies have been a rite of passage for medical students. In 2014 the Arnold P. Gold Foundation which had originated the idea for Medical Schools working in conjunction with the American Association of College Nursing extended the concept to about 100 Schools of Nursing. One year later, the URI College of Nursing has embraced the concept with its own White Coat Ceremony. The Ceremony is designed to remind student nurses of the need for patient-centered, humanistic care and to instill in them a commitment to the highest standard of the profession.
On September 28th, one hundred and ten students took an oath and donned white coats to mark their entrance into the nursing profession. The event was held in the ballroom of the Memorial Union with two members of each student’s family invited to attend.
The class and guests were welcomed by Interim Dean, Mary C. Sullivan. Associate Dean, Patricia Burbank, gave a brief history of the origin of White lab coats and introduced the faculty. The students were then cloaked by the two faculty members who will teach their first class a Health Assessment Course: Associate Clinical Professors, Mary Lavin and Patricia Stout. After receiving the Coat, each student shook hands with all of the faculty.
With this ceremony, students were formally accepted in the College of Nursing; receiving a white coat and nametag that is symbolic of the health care profession. After all students had received their Coats, the Class of 2018 recited the following oath:
As a Nurse dedicated to providing the highest quality care and services, I solemnly pledge that I will:
Consider the welfare of humanity and relief of suffering my primary concern;
Act in a compassionate and trustworthy manner in all aspects of my care;
Apply my knowledge, experience, and skills to the best of my ability to assure optimal outcomes for my patients;
Exercise sound professional judgement while abiding by legal and ethical requirements;
Accept the lifelong obligation to improve my professional knowledge and competence;
Promote, advocate for and strive to protect the health, safety and rights of the patient;
With this pledge, I accept the duties and responsibilities that embody the nursing profession.
I take this oath voluntarily with the full realization of the responsibility with which I am entrusted by the public.
Assistant Dean of Student and Academic Affairs, Jessica Boisclair organized the event with her team and has tentatively planned the next White Coat Ceremony for January 25, 2016 at Edwards Hall. It is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. It is hoped that the larger venue will allow more guests to attend. “Several students would have liked to have more family members attend”, according to Asst. Dean, Jessica Boisclair. She also hopes that, “since it is before classes start, the families of out of state students will be able to attend.”
Both Associate Dean Patricia Burbank and Assistant Dean Jessica Boisclair felt that “the event exceed their expectations”. “Parents, students and faculty loved it, loved it”. They were, “delightfully surprised by how genuinely moved students, faculty and parents were during the recitation of the oath”. “It really went very smoothly.” They also felt that, “the class really bonded” in a way they had not anticipated with “loads of pictures and hugs among classmates after the ceremony was done.”
Interim Dean, Mary C. Sullivan who made closing remarks to conclude the ceremony was also very moved by the reception of the students and parents. “It is a great way to start the semester with each new class and a reinforcement of our faculty’s commitment for upholding high standards of excellence in nursing education and practice as well as a caring approach to individual students and their learning needs.”