Several upperclassmen and graduate-level nursing students received white coats on Friday, Sept. 17 in recognition of the care and compassion required in the nursing field.
The White Coat Ceremony has been a standard for the nursing program since the inaugural ceremony in 2016. Students who take part in the ceremony receive a white coat from a nursing faculty member. The faculty member helps put the coat on the student as a physical reminder of the responsibilities that come with the nursing profession. Similar “cloaking” ceremonies are common in other medical fields such as dentistry, pharmacy, and physical therapy. This past ceremony was the fifth for PSU.
“The White Coat Ceremony for our clinical nursing students at the baccalaureate, masters, and doctoral level is a relatively new tradition for us,” said Mary Carol Pomatto, dean of the PSU College of Arts and Sciences, in her introductory address during the ceremony. “The placement of the coat on the student’s shoulders signifies in part the responsibility and trust that patients and their families place on nurses and other members of the health care community. The critical role that nurses play in health and healthcare has never been more evident than during this world-wide pandemic. Our students who will be receiving their white coats are well-prepared to meet the challenges and rigors of their academic and clinical programs.”
The White Coat Ceremony was funded by a grant given to the College of Nursing through a combination of the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). The grant is provided to qualifying colleges and universities to support the implementation of white coat ceremonies across the US.
“The White Coat Ceremony reflects a very significant time in the education of healthcare providers,” said nursing professor Barbara McClaskey as part of the ceremony. “It is intended to mark the transition from classroom-based instruction to clinical instruction where we start taking care of patients. It was in 2016 that we were first honored with a grant from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to hold our first White Coat Ceremony. We were the second of so-far only five schools in Kansas to be awarded this grant.”
To the students honored at the White Coat Ceremony, the tradition signifies the commitment and trust essential to the profession they chose to study.
“The White Coat Ceremony was an incredibly special moment that marked our entrance into such a special profession,” said junior in nursing Lauryn Macy. “To me, the white coats represent the trust our patients and their families put into us and the commitment to continually serve others each and every day to the best of our ability.”
While students are typically coated at the beginning of their junior year, some senior students were presented with coats at the ceremony due to delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The White Coat Ceremony is usually a special honor for juniors in the nursing program, but because of Covid the ceremony was cancelled last year, so the juniors and seniors were commemorated together this year,” said senior in nursing Meredith Bierbaum. “The white coat that nursing students are given signifies the weight of trust that we as students are given to care for patients and their families in the clinical setting. This is a huge responsibility and a reminder of how critical the role of nursing is in healthcare. All the preparation we have done in the classroom setting has led us to the hands-on experience we receive in clinical. The ceremony reminded me that all of the hard work that goes into studying and clinical is worth it to get the opportunity to care for people that truly need it.”