The School of Nursing at the University of Indianapolis will hold its first white coat ceremony this semester for junior nursing students, Associate Professor of the School of Nursing Briyana Morrell said. She said the ceremony celebrates the students and acknowledges their work while also pressing on the importance of putting the patient first. The ceremony was originally set for Feb. 4 and has been rescheduled for Feb. 15 due to inclement weather.
“Nursing school is really tough and it [the ceremony] is a way to come back to our why we’re nurses, the importance of the role of nursing and to let our students know that we’re here to support them, that we value them and we value the work that they’ll do,” Morrell said.
Assistant Professor of the School of Nursing Toni Morris said this ceremony was made possible this year due to a one-time $1000 grant from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. Despite this being a one time grant, Morris said they were working on a sustainability plan to ensure they can continue doing it in the future and all the students can have a coat for the ceremony.
“We are working on a sustainability plan. So not everybody chooses to buy a coat…. We thought it would be best if we moved to the sustainability of trying to make sure we have coats available so that everybody that wants to participate can regardless if they have the ability or want to buy one,” Morris said.
Nursing faculty wanted to be able to include all the students in this ceremony, Morris said, but because of COVID-19 and limitations on space, only junior nursing students could participate this year. However, Morris said the ceremony will be streaming to allow those who cannot be at the ceremony to watch.
“The biggest driving factor of limitation was time, and then just the resources to put on a ceremony that would accommodate over 200 people. We really looked at every possible way that we could possibly do that [include everyone] and we really wanted to, but it just wasn’t feasible. I would say that there was deep regret that we couldn’t include the whole entire student body because this was our inaugural one,” Morris said. “The best we can do is start implementing it now and move forward. I guess that’s where I see that it’s extremely meaningful to students and that they’re excited to participate in it because of that response that they gave us that they all wanted to be included.”
Students will only have two tickets each that they can give to friends and/or family to attend the ceremony. Morrell said that at the ceremony, students will come up on stage and get a coat and a pin and they will say a professional oath.
“They [the students] … take an oath, which indicates their understanding of the professional responsibilities that they have and also discusses the sacred nature of healthcare and the care that we provide to patients,” Morrell said. “It’s kind of a rite of passage as well as a celebration for these students as they continue through nursing school.”
Morris said that students saying the oath and participating in the ceremony is important as it helps them remember to keep their focus on humanism while working with patients. It is important for nurses to take this oath before they begin working with patients rather than at the end of their training because they would be taking it too late, Morris said. She said that younger nursing students should pay attention to the ceremony to see the oath they will be taking.
“We would definitely encourage younger nursing students to watch it because that’s going to be them, or anybody that’s even interested in nursing, that they would watch the ceremony just to get them excited about this rite of passage and then know what they are going to be experiencing in the near future too,” Morris said.