News 2024: 2024 White Coat Ceremony: Symbolizing a mantle of responsibility, compassion, and dedication

News 2024: 2024 White Coat Ceremony: Symbolizing a mantle of responsibility, compassion, and dedication
2024 White Coat Ceremony: Symbolizing a mantle of responsibility, compassion, and dedication

Sophomore nursing students celebrate their transition to clinical education

Nearly 90 sophomore nursing students received their white coats during the 10th annual White Coat Ceremony.

In an annual rite of passage, 90 sophomore nursing students marked the beginning of their clinical education in the 10th White Coat Ceremony that symbolizes their commitment to the nursing profession and their responsibility to the patients they will serve as professional nurses. 

As they entered the Main Auditorium to cheers and applause from their families and their College of Nursing & Health Sciences faculty, their white coats were draped over their arms. At the conclusion of the ceremony, wearing those white coats, these aspiring nurses pledged in the Student Oath to provide the highest quality care and services "with the full realization of the responsibility with which I am entrusted by the public." 

"I am so motivated and excited to keep on going and keep on working hard. Nursing is very challenging, but when you put in the time and it pays off, it motivates you," said Ruby Lopez Caban '26  of New Bedford. She hopes to work in a hospital emergency room and pursue her Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. 

Keynote speaker Dr. Lisa Thomas
Dr. Lisa Thomas, PhD, RN, CNE, associate professor and program coordinator at Framingham State University, served as a guest speaker and encouraged the nursing students to embrace diversity and equity for their patients and their colleagues.

Speakers offer congratulations and advice 

In welcoming remarks, CNHS Dean Kimberly Christopher explained that the White Coat Ceremony was created by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation to engage members of the health care team and welcome them to the profession. "For the nursing profession, the ceremony symbolizes a commitment to compassionate, humanistic, patient-centered care also rooted in scientific proficiency." 

Provost Ramprasad Balasubramanian also congratulated the students on this important milestone. "When you see your patients, they are not going to be at their best. They are going to be at their most vulnerable. You will be prepared to meet that challenge. You have not been prepared for your first job; we have prepared you for a career spanning 30-40 years. Remember to take care of yourselves and look out for your fellow nurses. So many people are depending on you." 

Student speaker Kevin Valentine '24
Student Speaker Kevin Valentine '24 recalled his own White Coat Ceremony and first clinical experience as he congratulated the undergraduates on reaching this point in their nursing education.

Dr. Lisa Thomas, PhD, RN, CNE, coordinator of the MSN Program and an associate professor at Framingham State University, advised the students to make an impact in diversity and equity. "You have heard about disparities and these issues can seem insurmountable, but every nurse can make an impact. One of the most impactful things each of us can do is advocate for our patients.  

"It is hard to speak about diversity without discussing equity," she continued. "Equity means providing care or resources so that all individuals have equal outcomes. As nurses we need to be ever mindful of equity when we treat diverse populations. Embracing diversity as individual nurses enriches the professional overall." 

Student speaker Kevin Valentine '24 reflected on his first clinical rotation and the symbolism of the white coats they were wearing. "As you don your white coats for the first time, you are not just putting on a uniform, you are assuming a mantle of responsibility, compassion, and dedication. The white coat symbolizes purity, professionalism, and the trust bestowed upon you by your patients and their families. It is a physical representation of the commitment you have made to the nursing profession and the individuals whose lives you will touch. 

"Nursing is not merely a profession," Valentine continued, "it is a calling – a calling to serve others with kindness, integrity and respect. It is about being present in the moments that matter most, offering comfort in times of distress, and advocating for those who cannot advocate for themselves. Nursing is truly a work of heart." 

These students began their clinical experiences in January throughout Massachusetts at Alden Court in Fairhaven, Sippican in Marion, CareOne in New Bedford, Southeast Rehab at Charlton Memorial Hospital in Fall River, and Grand Islander in Middletown, RI. 

Click here to view more photos.