As their professors, families, and friends proudly watched, joined by UMass Dartmouth Chancellor Robert E. Johnson, 97 members of the College of Nursing’s Class of 2021 entered the Main Auditorium for the 2019 White Coat Ceremony with their white coats draped over their arms.
Following congratulatory remarks, the students walked across the stage and were cloaked with those white coats, looking very much like the professional nurses they aspire to become.
Each also received a commemorative pin from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, which established the White Coat Ceremony in 1993, and a long-stemmed peach rose. The students were congratulated by College of Nursing Dean Kimberly Christopher.
The White Coat ceremony is traditionally held during nursing students’ sophomore year and is considered a formal welcome to the nursing profession. The ceremony signifies the transition from classroom to clinical learning.
In welcoming the large audience to the ceremony, Assistant Professor of Community Nursing Marni Kellogg said, “All of our faculty and staff look forward to continuing to work with each of you and supporting you as you embark on the clinical phase of your nursing education.”
First White Coat Ceremony for nursing held in 2014
Christopher explained that the ceremony originally was designed to welcome students into the medical profession and set expectations for their roles as future physicians. In 2014, the Gold Foundation broadened its mission to engage members of the entire health care team. For the nursing profession, the ceremony symbolizes a commitment to compassionate, humanistic, patient-centered care rooted in scientific proficiency.
“Let me emphasize that providing clinical care is a responsibility and also a privilege,” said Christopher. “For it is a privilege to serve and care for individuals, families, and communities and to maintain their trust in us as professional nurses. Tonight, the faculty and I cloak you and embrace you in your role as a student nurse and future professional nurse.”
“While at UMass Dartmouth, you have learned the skillsets necessary to care for people. It is my belief that you have also acquired a mindset to provide everyone with compassion,” Chancellor Johnson said. “That compassion leads to better care and better outcomes.”
He praised the Class of 2018 for achieving a 98% pass rate on the NCLEX exam. “This puts UMass Dartmouth at the top of the charts, able to compete with any institution.”
Boston Medical Center executive offers advice
Nancy Gaden, senior vice president and chief nursing officer at Boston Medical Center, served as guest speaker. She advised the students “to treat everyone with respect and kindness. You step into patients’ lives in their most vulnerable moments.”
Matthew Machado ’19 congratulated the College of Nursing’s Class of 2021 on behalf of the college’s seniors and recalled his own White Coat Ceremony.
“I hope this ceremony motivates you to be the best nurse you can possibly be, just as it motivated me two years ago,” Machado said. “In three short weeks, you will finally be able to apply what you have learned in the classroom to a patient’s plan of care.
“Do not be afraid; as each clinical week passes, you will grow in confidence and efficiency in your clinical skills. The greatest part about this profession is that you are never alone; there is always someone available to help you provide the optimal holistic care that patients deserve.”
Before the ceremony concluded, Assistant Dean Karen Barnett led a recitation of the Student Oath of Service.
White coat “embodies the profession”
As the students and their parents took pictures and mingled after the ceremony, Elias Loughery ’21said the white coat “makes me feel professional, like I’ve kind of made it.”
“It’s a symbol of all we’ve accomplished and everything we will do,” said Allyson Andrade ’21. “It embodies the profession.”