On Jan. 26, the Seton Hall University College of Nursing held its fourth White Coat Ceremony event in the Jubilee Hall Auditorium to formally welcome 44 second degree Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) and Master Entry Clinical Nurse Leader students as the next generation of nurses.
Dean Marie Foley shared information about the event’s significance and history.
“This ceremony has come to symbolize the formal entrance into the healing professions with the solemn donning of the white coat,” she explained in an email.
Foley said that the first White Coat Ceremony occurred in fall of 2014 after receiving a grant from the Arnold P Gold Foundation.
As defined by the Gold Foundation website, “all ceremonies include an oath, speakers and some way to commemorate the occasion — whether it be with the presentation of a white coat to each student or some other icon of medicine, such as a stethoscope.”
“Students and parents expressed the ceremony was extremely meaningful and one that will always be remembered. The blessing of the hands by Fr. Brian Needles was a symbol of how a nurse’s hands are the instruments they use to heal and the strength to protect their patients,” Foley said.
Several students gave their insight on the ceremony’s symbolism and meaning for their future occupations.
Elisabeth Mauro, who is one of the 22 students at Seton Hall’s Accelerated BSN program at Georgian Court University, was emotionally affected by the meaning of the white coat.
“The White Coat Ceremony was a beautiful recognition of the diligence and perseverance students of the nursing profession endure whether they be a traditional, second-degree, or a Master of Nursing Student,” Mauro said in an email.
Mauro, a second-degree student, will graduate in October. She explained the significance of having their hands blessed in the ceremony.
“The Blessing of the Hands served as a symbolic tradition of the healing property our hands provide for our patients as nurses. Overall, the Ceremony was a wonderful experience as a new member of the nursing community and I was thrilled to be a part of it,” she said.
Quistara Letona, also a second-degree student, enjoyed an unique experience of being honored for the ceremony while being in an accelerated nursing program.
“My understanding is that the white coat ceremony is a celebratory marker for most health sciences field from the didactic (book phase) to a clinical (hands on patient care) phase,” Quistara said. “It was interesting because I am in an accelerated nursing program. Traditionally other programs are four years, so the BSN students would have this ceremony during their senior semester.”
Heidi Abigail Chi, a second degree student as well, found the ceremony to be unifying for herself and her classmates.
“The White Coat Ceremony was a great experience as it sets the vision of our future,” Chi said in an email. “It doesn’t matter where you come from, your culture, or gender. What matters is that we are all working towards the same goal, which is to make a difference in the lives of others.”
Kaitlyn Quinn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.