Aug. 29, 2014
By Toni Cardarella
The incoming class of baccalaureate students at the University of Kansas School of Nursing received their white clinical coats as part of this year's Nightingale Ceremony, signaling the beginning of their nursing careers and the new academic year.
Each of the 104 new Bachelor of Science in Nursing students went to the stage to be "cloaked" in their white coats and returned to their seats to take a nurse's oath.
The white coat cloaking has become a familiar rite of passage at medical schools and is now being incorporated in more and more nursing schools around the country.
"The white coat 'cloaking' is a symbolic and real expression of the layperson's progression into his or her chosen profession of nursing, and an affirmation of the compassion needed and recognized in all health professions," says Nelda Godfrey, Ph.D., RN, assistant dean of undergraduate programs at the KU School of Nursing and among the speakers at the event.
The ceremony was held Friday, Aug. 22, at Battenfeld Auditorium, capped a week of orientation activities for the new nursing students. Classes began Monday for all KU Medical Center students. It marked the fourth year for the Nightingale Ceremony at the KU School of Nursing but the first time for the white coat feature, which was funded with a grant from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. The foundation collaborated with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to bring the white coat ceremony to 100 schools of nursing this year. The ceremony was also sponsored by the KU Nurses Alumni Association.
"This ceremony marks both your decision to become a nurse and your commitment to scholarship in our discipline," said Karen Miller, Ph.D., RN, dean of the KU School of Nursing and senior vice chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs at KU Medical Center.
Miller spoke of the many accomplishments of the ceremony's namesake, Florence Nightingale, including her forming the first school of nursing. At the heart of Nightingale's beliefs was a critical understanding of the power of the individual nurse to create a healing environment.
"She expected each of us to devote ourselves to the needs of the patient above all else. And so, in honoring her, we expect much of you. As your dean, I am certain that each of you has the capacity to exceed our expectations and I promise that we will devote ourselves to your educational success."
Doug Girod, MD., executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center, welcomed the students to the KU Medical Center campus and their new careers. The event's keynote speaker was Chris Ruder, RN, vice president for patient care services at The University of Kansas Hospital and president of the KU Nurses Alumni Association.
"Today you are making a meaningful commitment, a commitment to yourself, your family, your profession, and to a larger community of humankind who will need and entrust their care in you," Ruder told the students. "With that commitment comes the responsibility of knowing and living nursing as a profession, not just a job."
Ruder said he believed the practice of nursing is a blend of both art and science. "It is this constant play between the knowledge and the delivery of care that makes nursing one of the most challenging professions and also one of the most rewarding. I believe it requires resiliency, humility, integrity, empathy, compassion and competence."
He shared wisdom passed along from other nurse and reminded the students to take every advantage of their education and leaders at the KU School of Nursing.
"Your professors are more than professors," he said. "They are clinicians, mentors, innovators, leaders, scientists, caregivers, researchers, builders, conveners, global thinkers and lifelong learners."