The University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON) recently held groundbreaking White Coat ceremonies for incoming students, becoming one of 100 nursing schools in 43 states and the District of Columbia to do so in this pilot year.
Students received white coats and stood together to recite an oath at inaugural events Oct. 21 in Baltimore and Nov. 4 at the Universities at Shady Grove in Rockville, Md. The group at USG consisted of Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) students; participants in the Baltimore event included BSN and Clinical Nurse Leader students. (See the photo gallery.)
Although White Coat ceremonies have long been important rites of passage at schools of medicine and other health sciences institutions, the 2014 academic term is the first time a coordinated effort has been developed to offer similar events at schools of nursing. It comes at a time of change in the U.S. health care delivery system and in the wake of the Institute of Medicine's 2010 report, The Future of Nursing, that envisioned strengthened roles for the nation's nurses.
The UMSON ceremonies grew out of a new collaboration between the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to pilot White Coat events. Schools were provided financial support and guidance to offer a White Coat ceremony, which consisted of the students donning their white coats, remarks by school leaders, an address by an eminent role model, and a reception.
UMSON dean Jane M. Kirschling, PhD, RN, FAAN, called the students' attention to their place in history, reminding participants that they "celebrate this exciting new tradition within the context of the school's 125 years."
At the ceremony in Baltimore, the distinguished speaker was Lisa Rowen, DNSc, MS '86, RN, FAAN, senior vice president for nursing and patient care services and chief nursing officer at the University of Maryland Medical Center. She will be honored next spring as one of 25 alumni who were named Visionary Pioneers to mark the school's 125th anniversary.
"This is a fabulous school. You will learn what a nurse is and how a nurse does his or her work," said Rowen, who also is an associate professor at UMSON and a member of the school's Board of Visitors. "But it's not going to teach you the 'why.' That comes from each one of you."
She advised the students to "ground yourself every single day with your personal 'why,' and wear it inside out," as she does. That way, she saids, each and every nurse shows others "who we are as nurses" through all actions and deeds.
Rowen spoke of the big steps for each of the students as they think about and celebrate the humanism of the nursing profession, reflecting on its "humanism both individually and collectively."
At both locations, students each received a pin signifying humanism. In accordance with the funding for the ceremony, the purpose of the program was to instill a commitment to providing compassionate care among future health professionals entering nursing schools.
Compassion was the theme of remarks delivered by the distinguished speaker at Shady Grove. Miriam Kashani, DNP, MS '01, BSN '98, CRNP, chief scientific director, Integrative Cardiac Health Project, Henry M. Jackson Foundation, at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. She told the group that she is charged with the task of looking at numerous scientific metrics to determine the best preventive therapies to combat heart disease and stroke.
"Although not a metric, compassion is actually a scientific parameter that matters to me," Kashani said, in part because "patients are empowered to care for themselves when they are cared for by a compassionate provider."
Kashani said, "Compassion correlates positively with prevention."
Speakers at both events included Janice Hoffman, PhD, RN, ANEF, associate professor and assistant dean for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, and Marjorie Fass, MA, assistant dean for student and academic services.
Speaking in Baltimore and Shady Grove, respectively, were Gail Schoen Lemaire, PhD, CNL, PMHCNS, BC, associate professor and director of the Clinical Nurse Leader master's option; and Rebecca Wiseman, PhD, RN, associate professor and assistant dean for the UMSON nursing program at USG.