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Inaugural “White Coat” Ceremony

nursing students receive white coatsRecently, the Southern Vermont College (SVC) community and family members celebrated the inaugural “White Coat” ceremony. This event was for baccalaureate nursing students in recognition of the time when each student begins to, as part of their education, provide healthcare in service to individuals, groups and communities.  The ceremony emphasized the commitment to high quality, humanistic, patient-focused care. The event was supported by The Arnold P. Gold Foundation and the American Association of Colleges and Nursing.

Nursing students were cloaked with a white coat by Chair of the Division of Nursing and Health Services Mary Botter, PhD, RN. The ceremony reflected the change from learning primarily in the classroom to engagement in clinical learning and taking care of patients.

“This ceremony marks an important rite of passage for our students,” said Dr. Botter. “It serves to recognize the transition from preparatory courses to the professional nursing course sequence.  Students continue to learn in the classroom but importantly also with patients and families during vulnerable and critical junctures in their lives. The philosophy of the SVC baccalaureate nursing program focuses on the centrality of competence, compassion and caring.”

On each of the white coats presented to 21 students was a “Keeping Healthcare Human” lapel pin. The logo on the pin symbolizes the continuous bond of trust, respect and clear communication between professional nurses and their patients which occurs when humanism is the core of practice. The pins were provided by The Arnold P. Gold Foundation as part of their ongoing initiative focusing on caring practice by all health care providers. The pins serve as a visual reminder to students that in order to deliver the best care to their patients, compassion and empathy must be the hallmark of their clinical practice. At the event, all SVC nursing students recited the Nursing Student Oath, which reflects a commitment to provide high quality, humanistic, patient-centered care.

More information on the College’s Division of Nursing and Health Services is available here.

History of White Coat Ceremony
The first full-fledged White Coat Ceremony was held in 1993 at Columbia University as a result of an initiative led by Dr. Arnold P. Gold, a teacher and pediatric neurologist. Historically, medical students received the Hippocratic Oath the first time at commencement. Dr. Gold initiated the White Coat Ceremony, a change in tradition, to introduce students to their obligation to society before starting their first year of clinical study.

As with medical students, nursing students also received a Professional Pledge for the first time at a ceremony immediately prior to commencement. Thus, in 2014, recognizing the vital role nurses play on the healthcare team, the Gold Foundation for Humanism in Healthcare partnered with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to initiate a White Coat Ceremony for Nursing. More than 200 schools of nursing now participate and the number continues to grow. Southern Vermont College was selected as a grant recipient this year to support this new tradition.

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