white coat groupOn September 28, 2014, sophomore students from the College’s campus nursing program gathered in the Harold Alfond Center for the annual Nursing Lighting Ceremony—a rite of passage for nursing students where they dedicate themselves to upholding ethical standards of the profession. The ceremony included reciting the Florence Nightingale Pledge and, for the first time, the donning of a white coat.

The white coat component was a special addition. The College—one of 100 across the country—was selected to participate in a pilot White Coat Ceremony, an honor bestowed upon the College by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation (APGF) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).

“It was an honor to participate in such an exciting and meaningful event,” says Dr. Lynette Hamlin, Saint Joseph’s associate dean for nursing. “This year, we  integrated the White Coat Ceremony into our Nursing Lighting Ceremony, which is our symbolic event to signify our students’ entrance into the profession of nursing.”

The ceremony included an address from Dr. Jacqueline Fawcett, a professor of nursing at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

The White Coat Ceremony has been a staple in medical education for more than 20 years, but with the recent collaboration between APGF and AACN, the reach of the ceremony has broadened. For this pilot program, nursing schools in 43 states plus the District of Columbia were granted financial support and guidance to host the White Coat Ceremony.

“By offering White Coat Ceremonies, our schools are sending a clear message to new nursing students that compassionate care must be a hallmark of their clinical practice,” says Dr. Eileen T. Breslin, AACN president. “Securing a commitment to providing patient-centered care at the beginning of a nurse’s professional formation will help to raise the quality of care available to all patients.”

The Florence Nightingale Pledge

I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous, and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters  committed to my keeping and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.