In 50th anniversary year, School of Nursing holds first White Coat Ceremony

View photos of the ceremony

The first official action celebrating the School of Nursing’s 50th anniversary year is a new tradition: the white coat ceremony.

Nearly 120 incoming Traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing students and 286 current TBSN students took part in three separate ceremonies held Jan. 4 and 5 in UT Health San Antonio’s Holly Auditorium.

Intended for first-year students in the medical, nursing and physician assistant programs, the White Coat Ceremony “serves to welcome students to health care practice and elevate the value of humanism as the core of health care,” said Eileen T. Breslin, Ph.D., RN, FAAN, dean of the School of Nursing, in an advance message to faculty.

The ceremony was initiated in 1993 at Columbia University’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons by Arnold P. Gold, M.D., who was a professor and pediatric neurologist there. A passionate advocate for humanistic health care, Dr. Gold believed that the oath taken by new physicians at the end of medical school came too late. Through the nonprofit organization that he and his wife, Dr. Sandra Gold, started, The Arnold P. Gold Foundation has expanded the White Coat Ceremony around the globe.

During the ceremonies held here Jan 4 and 5, funded in part by the Gold Foundation and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the students were cloaked with a white coat by School of Nursing faculty members. They also recited an oath unique to the UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing in which they committed to the professional, ethical and compassionate practice of nursing throughout their career.

Waiting to receive her white coat before the Friday evening ceremony, Emily Rauschuber, 21, said, “I’m really excited about the white coat ceremony. It’s a milestone for me to enter the profession. I have a love for science and a passion for caring for people. I think nursing school will challenge me and help me grow in a positive way.”

Classmate Israel Carmargo, 29, added, “I’m excited for the white coat ceremony. I’m not sure what it will be like, but my family and my wife are here.” Formerly a master’s student in neurobiology, Carmargo worked as a scribe for doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. “Because of that, I decided I wanted to go to nursing school. I’m planning to earn my master’s and want to become a nurse practitioner. I worked a lot in the emergency department and I enjoy that environment,” he said.

During the ceremony Jan. 4, Billy Rosa, M.S., was the guest speaker. Rosa is a palliative care nurse practitioner at the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. He is a Ph.D. student at the University of Pennsylvania, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Future of Nursing Scholar, one of Modern Health Care’s 2017 Rising Stars in Nursing and one of the youngest inductees as a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing and the American College of Critical Care Nurses.

He told students that “The World Health Organization estimates that there are roughly 20.7 million nurses and midwives worldwide. We account for nearly 70 percent of the health care workforce and deliver anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of all primary health care services.

“This is my vision for the nursing profession: Nurses ― you ― will awaken to the powerful knowledge that we are in the distinct position to bring human caring to the forefront; to promote, preserve and protect human dignity, first and foremost, and at all costs; to use our technologies as tools to more deeply engage our patients; to educate, lead and guide society toward a paradigm of healing and wellness; to embody ethical values of compassion, kindness and love; and to become conscious of the humble truth that we continue to light the way because we are – in fact – the light of humanity itself,” he said.

Substituting for Dean Breslin, who was ill, Jacqueline McGrath, Ph.D., RN. FNAP, FAAN, told the audience: “Incorporated in the oath that all students will recite during today’s ceremony are elements that are unique to the mission and vision of the UT Health San Antonio School of Nursing. The vision of the School of Nursing is that we make lives better by promoting health as an act of social justice. As a Hispanic-serving Institution, we know our rich diversity reflects our commitment to educate the next generation of compassionate, culturally proficient nursing professionals who are prepared to address the health care disparities facing underserved populations in South Texas and throughout the world.

“Our mission is to develop diverse nurse leaders to improve health and health care through education, research, practice and community engagement. We value innovation, diversity and inclusion, ethics and accountability, advocacy and synergy. Today’s recitation of this oath clarifies our expectations for the nurses we educate and the expectation that each of our graduates will continue to uphold the strong legacy nurses have established as society’s most trusted profession,” added Dr. McGrath, vice dean for faculty excellence in the School of Nursing.

The students recited the following oath:

“As a nurse dedicated to providing the highest quality care and services, I solemnly pledge that I will:

  • Make lives better by promoting health as an act of social justice;
  • Act in a compassionate and trustworthy manner in all aspects of my care;
  • Apply my knowledge, experience and skills to the best of my ability to assure optimal outcomes for my patients;
  • Exercise sound professional judgment while abiding by legal and ethical requirements;
  • Accept the lifelong obligation to improve my professional knowledge and competence;
  • Promote, advocate for and strive to protect the health, safety and rights of my patients;
  • Commit to the generation and transmission of new knowledge to improve health and health care systems.

“I vow on my honor as a member of the nursing profession to take ownership for my actions and to uphold the values of nursing and the American Nurses Association Code of Ethics. With this pledge, I accept the duties and responsibilities that embody the nursing profession. I take this oath voluntarily with the full realization of the responsibility with which I am entrusted by the public,” the students concluded.

On March 1, 93 students entering the Accelerated BSN program will take part in their own White Coat Ceremony.




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