Some smiling broadly, some fidgeting nervously, each one excited, Seton Hall’s freshman nursing students waited for the first milestone of their medical career—the White Coat Ceremony.
Founded in 1993 by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and started in 2014 at SHU, the White Coat Ceremony marks the beginning of a student’s education in the medical field.
The ceremony, which took place at 4 p.m. on Sept. 23 in the Jubilee Hall Auditorium, reminded students and faculty of why they were called to the career of nursing.
According to Patricia Hubert, professor of Introduction to Professional Nursing, “[The ceremony] is inspiring. It always brings me back to remind me what it is I’m doing.”
Radhika Patel, a freshman nursing student, wanted to be a nurse since she was a young girl. The White Coat Ceremony further reinforced that dream.
“It motivates me to be a nurse,” Patel said.
Beyond donning coats on those who have the passion for their field, the ceremony represents the professional integrity and vocation of nursing.
“I think it [the White Coat Ceremony] brings to light the importance of the qualities of a nurse, and the importance of service and keeping that at the forefront, and maintaining ethical standards and professionalism,” said Dr. Teresa Conklin, assistant nursing instruction professor.
Jessica Yang, a freshman nursing student, said the ceremony “asserts us as a nursing profession and as a career,” and “really sets the values for nursing ethics,” she added.
While the ceremony sets the standard for professional and ethical values, freshman nursing student Caitlin Wing said the White Coat Ceremony represents unity among nursing students.
“I thought it was cool when we all did the academic integrity pledge together because it felt like we were all unified. The older nurses, and we as the younger nurses, were saying it together,” Wing said.
The hands of each new nursing student were anointed and blessed during the ceremony—a reminder that the welfare of a patient lies with them.
“You are entering a caring profession. A profession rooted in humanism,” said Dr. Marie Foley, dean of the School of Nursing, to the freshmen. Further expanding on Foley’s remarks, the Rev. Brian Needles focused his speech on nursing as a calling that transcends being a career.
“Nursing is more than a profession. More than just a way to earn a living. It’s a vocation,” Needles said during the ceremony.
A nurse must act with a high degree of integrity, said Dr. Marcia Gardener, associate dean for Undergraduate Programs & Assessment, during the ceremony.
“You have to sacrifice a little of yourself by putting patients first,” Gardener said during the ceremony.
These self-sacrificing humanitarian efforts are exactly what inspired freshman Teresa Holl to enter the nursing program.
“The reason I want to do nursing is for service,” Holl said. “I would like to join the Peace Corps, eventually, as a nurse. Or use nursing in the military, kind of international health.”
Quoting theologian Albert Schweitzer, Gardener at the ceremony said “I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”
Madison Feser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.