White coat ceremony marks important moment for nursing students

Kristen Malbone '17 (right) welcomes Lesley Piszczek '18 to the nursing profession.

Kristen Malbone ’17 (right) welcomes Lesley Piszczek ’18 to the nursing profession.

When Longwood nursing sophomores were cloaked in their bright new white coats last month, they marked an important transformative moment in the life of any pre-service nurse: entrance into clinical practice.

“The white coat is the universal sign of the medical profession,” said Dr. Deborah Ulmer, chair of the Longwood nursing department. When students wear their white coats, they are accepting an enormous responsibility and making their first steps into the field.”

In Longwood’s inaugural Gold-AACN White Coat Ceremony for Nursing, sophomore nursing students were cloaked by upperclassmen—a ritual that underscores the bonds between nurses.Those donning white coats also received a pin.

The white coat ceremony symbolizes the deep-rooted mission of both the university and the nursing program: commitment to the community and humanistic care. Underscoring those ideals, community partners and donors were present at the inaugural ceremony.

Dr.Terris Kennedy, formerly the assistant chief of the Army Nurse Corps in the office of the Army Surgeon General, was the keynote speaker. Kennedy, who has decades of experience in both public and private nursing organizations, has taught in the nursing schools at Duke and Old Dominion universities and serves on the boards of several schools and hospitals.

The ceremony was made possible by a grant by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation to support the Gold-AACN White Coat Ceremony for Nursing to promote compassionate care and a patient-centered approach to the nursing profession.The partnership between the foundation and the American Association of Colleges
of Nursing began funding white coat ceremonies in 2014.