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Virtual White Coat Ceremony Signals Beginning of Nursing School Journey  

The College of Nursing's Annual White Coat Ceremony, held for the first time virtually on April 9, marked the official entrance into nursing school for students in the undergraduate four-year B.S.N., the accelerated second-degree B.S.N. (A.B.S.N.), and the master's-entry Clinical Nurse Leader (C.N.L.) programs. 

Associate Director of Media Services Dana Foreman and AV Coordinators Mikayla Mitchell, Jeffrey Prosetti and Jose Hernandez, along with Secretary to the Dean Mercedes Martinez, produced this Teams Live Event for the College of Nursing.

Serving as master of ceremony was Theresa L. Deehan, M.A.S., assistant dean for business affairs. Father Antonio T. Sarento Jr., M.Div. '15, M.A. '19, chaplain and director of campus ministry for Seton Hall's Interprofessional Health Sciences Campus, delivered the opening invocation, as well as the liturgy for the traditional Blessing of the Hands, where each student was anointed with holy oil on their hands. Father Anton, as he is known on campus, also contributed to the event by producing the video segments which featured nursing students.

During her welcome address, Marie Foley, Ph.D., R.N., dean of the College of Nursing, explained that the first formal White Coat Ceremony, held at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1993, was led by Dr. Arnold P. Gold, a teacher and pediatric neurologist. She went on to detail how Dr. Gold and his wife had established the Arnold P. Gold Foundation a few years prior because they were concerned with all the technology that was involved in medicine. They didn't want physicians to lose that sense of humanism and caring. 

"Our ceremony today is to remind you that you are entering a profession which is rooted in those virtues," she said. "We don't ever want to lose sight of the fact that the focus of your care is the patient — whether that patient is an individual, a family, or a community."

Dean Foley concluded that the White Coat Ceremony serves as the beginning of their journey in becoming a nurse. "You are carrying on the legacy of Dr. Gold as servant leaders," she said. All B.S.N. students who are enrolled in Health Assessment in Spring 2021, plus first-year A.B.S.N. and C.N.L. students, were eligible to participate in the ceremony.

Associate Professor Linda J. Ulak, Ed.D., R.N. then virtually led the students in reciting the White Coat Ceremony Oath, which closely resembles the Hippocratic Oath taken by physicians.

During her keynote address, Associate Dean of Graduate Studies Kathleen Neville, Ph.D., R.N. also spoke of Dr. Gold. She had the pleasure of working with him early on in her career and witnessed his compassion and humanism toward his patients and their families. "In a most unprecedented trouble time that we live in now, more than ever humanism is so necessary," she said. "I have never been prouder to be a nurse than any other time in my life."

"Nurses are remarkably devoted, patient and family centered, humanistic, intelligent and scientifically based," continued Neville. "We are staunch advocates for our patients and patients' families. They rely on us, they trust us and they seek our knowledge and guidance. They appreciate and value our expertise as we do all this with compassion, honesty and highly ethical practice."

Neville informed the nursing students that when they cited the White Coat Ceremony Oath they have committed their practice "to humanism in healthcare." She concluded, "Becoming a nurse is not what you do. It becomes who you are, and it will define your life in the most meaningful ways. You are the future of nursing."

The Academic Integrity Oath, delivered by Associate Professor Diane McClure, D.N.P., C.P.N.P., was then recited by the B.S.N. and Clinical Nurse Leader students. It begins, "I pledge to uphold the highest standards of honesty and integrity in all of my actions as a student nurse at Seton Hall University College of Nursing."

The closing remarks were delivered by Judith Lucas, Ed.D., R.N., associate professor and associate dean of undergraduate studies, who noted that "when the World Health Organization designated 2020 through 2021 as years of the nurse and midwife, it affirmed the critical importance of the nursing profession."

"As a profession, we advocate for our clients and their families," she said. "We ensure they are treated with compassion and respect. We support patients and their families as they make their difficult healthcare decisions."

Lucas congratulated the students "as they start on their journey into the nursing profession." She concluded, "And let's congratulate all nurses on their dedication, empathy and commitment to the profession and to the people we serve and heal."

The event concluded with on-screen congratulatory messages from nursing alumni, provided by Director of Campus Partnerships Erika Thomas in the Department of Alumni Engagement and Philanthropy.

Categories: Education , Health and Medicine , Nation and World

For more information, please contact:

  • Mercedes Martinez
  • (973) 761-9014