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Featured | NewsSeptember 17, 2021

UAFS To Host Inaugural White Coat Ceremony

Written By: Rachel Putman

The University of Arkansas - Fort Smith will host its inaugural White Coat Ceremony for nursing students on Sept. 2 at Eastside Baptist Church in Fort Smith.

“Receiving the white coat is a momentous rite of passage for new nursing students entering the health care profession,” said Dr. Paula Julian, executive director of nursing at UAFS.

The Carolyn McKelvey Moore School of Nursing at UAFS is a recipient of the 2021 Gold-AACN White Coat Ceremony Grant.

“This grant afforded $1,000 toward the event, one that we hope will be a long-standing tradition in the school of nursing,” she said.

The event will begin at 6 p.m. at East Side Baptist Church located at 2710 Massard Road.

During the ceremony, 54 students, including 10 from the accelerated nursing program, will be “cloaked” in the iconic white coat that signifies their status as health care professionals.

Dr. Lynn Korvick, interim dean of the College of Health, Education, and Human Sciences at UAFS, will deliver the keynote address. White coats will be presented to the nursing students by Valerie Beshears, instructor; Patricia Briley, instructor; Sonia Romero, instructor; and Tammy Rogers, instructor. Nicki Gilbert, administrative specialist, will read the names of the student nurses as they approach the stage.

While donning their white coats for the first time, nursing students will take the Oath to Compassionate Patient Care, stating they will “consider the welfare of humanity and relief of suffering (their) primary concern.”

The White Coat Ceremony was initiated at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons by Arnold P. Gold M.D., a professor, and pediatric neurologist. 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.

Today, nearly every medical school in the United States, hundreds of nursing schools, and many other health profession schools around the globe participate in the tradition of humanistic care. In 2014, recognizing the vital role nurses play in the healthcare team, the Gold Foundation partnered with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to adopt a White Coat Ceremony for Nursing. More than 360 schools of nursing now participate and the number continues to grow.

“Today, as we are facing the dual pandemics of COVID 19 and racism, the White Coat Ceremony is all the more relevant in emphasizing the importance of the human connection in health care,” said Dr. Richard I. Levin, president and CEO of the Gold Foundation. "We are grateful for the leadership of the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith in elevating the message, both during the ceremony and throughout the years of education, that empathy and respect are critical parts of optimal care.”

The Gold Foundation champions the human connection in health care. The foundation engages schools and their students, health systems, companies, and individual clinicians in the joy and meaning of humanistic health care so that patients and their families can be partners in collaborative, compassionate, and scientifically excellent care.

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Rachel Rodemann Putman

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