There has never been a better time to be a nurse, and incoming Western University of Health Sciences College of Graduate Nursing (CGN) students are “ready to do nursing well.”
CGN held its white coat ceremony on Aug. 19, 2023, in Pomona, California, bringing together a variety of students – some earned a bachelor’s degree in another field and are learning the nursing profession for the first time. Others are working nurses furthering their education. Some want to be family nurse practitioners, while others want to be psychiatric critical care nurses.
The white coat ceremony is an important tradition established by the University. It’s a time when students are cloaked with the white clinical coat to represent their commitment to nursing, said CGN Dean Mary Lopez, PhD, MSN, RN.
“This tradition, held in the presence of administration, faculty, family and friends, enhances students’ awareness of their responsibilities as healers as they enter nursing education or further their education,” Lopez said. “This ceremony encourages students to accept the obligations inherent in our nursing profession – to be excellent in science, to be compassionate, and to lead lives of the highest integrity.”
There has never been a better time to be a nurse, Lopez said. U.S. News and World Report’s “Best Jobs of 2023” ranked nursing second behind only software developer. Gallup once again ranked nurses the highest of all careers in ethics and honesty.
“Nursing lends a sense of beyond self by respecting humanity, having integrity, and valuing the essence of the human spirit. Students, the world needs advanced practice nurses, and you are entering nursing school at the perfect time,” Lopez said. “Although your educational journey may be difficult at times, nothing compares to the fulfillment of improving the lives of others. Congratulations on earning your white coat and learning about the great profession called nursing.”
WesternU President Robin Farias-Eisner, MD, PhD, MBA, attended the CGN white coat ceremony with his wife, Terry, who is a retired psychiatric nurse. WesternU is uniquely focused on the tenets of humanism and compassion, upon which the white coat ceremony is based, Farias-Eisner said.
“The white coat symbolizes professionalism compassion, trust, and integrity, and it must be earned from our patents,” Farias-Eisner said. “It is an induction to this noble calling of medicine and is a privilege to uphold. The very fabric of the white represents the deep fabric of your craft, and the relationship between yourselves and your future patients.”
WesternU Board of Trustee member Tony Chan, PharmD, reflected on how nurses have impacted him throughout his life. He worked as a gardener and orderly at a hospital to earn money for junior college. The hospital nurses embraced him as one of their own. They hired him to work at their homes on the weekends and invited him inside for lunches and dinners.
“With all those memories etched on my heart, that’s a reminder of the power of humanity and the impact we can have on each other in this world,” Chan said.
Chan and his family own and operate a network of 16 pharmacies, and they have embraced collaboration with family nurse practitioners and psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, recognizing the power of interdisciplinary teamwork in providing holistic care to patients, Chan said.
“As we put on the white coat today, let us remember the power you hold to change the world,” Chan said. “You join the lineage of healers and caregivers who have dedicated their lives in helping others.”
CGN Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs Dawn Stone, PhD, RN, ANP-BC, COHN-S, closed the ceremony with the often-quoted phrase, “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.”
“Nurses also strive to provide safe, high-quality care to individual patients and populations by practicing nursing well,” Stone said. “Yes, it’s worth it. This is how we save lives and promote longevity.”
CGN students will study hard, appraise quality evidence and research, and enthusiastically engage in clinical activities. The art of caring is also important.
“Doing nursing well means actively listening to understand needs. Taking time for compassionate care despite competing demands is essential,” Stone said. “And this is not just your patients. Caring is also very important to express to your colleagues and members of the interprofessional health care team. Events and circumstances can be deeply emotional at times. We need to remember to support and care for each other too.”
She asked the students if they are ready to do nursing well, and invited them to stand and say together, “I am ready.”
Master of Science in Nursing-Entry (MSN-E) student Tiffany Tran said prior to the ceremony that Welcome Week was exciting and overwhelming with so much information presented at once. Every day there is something new to learn and new to explore in nursing. She was excited to put on the white coat for the first time.
“Honestly, it’s the beginning of a new journey,” Tran said. “I’m going to be excited and enthusiastic to see what the future holds, and I’m ready for it.”