Nursing student Xue Zhao is helped into her white coat by nursing professor and department chair Dr. Melody Cash during a Jan. 19 ceremony at Eastern Mennonite University. (Photos by Macson McGuigan)

Nursing department holds spring semester white coat ceremony

Eastern Mennonite University’s nursing program held a white coat ceremony for its newest class of nursing students, Friday, Jan. 19, in Martin Chapel. Students participate in this ceremony at the beginning of their first semester in the clinical level of the nursing program.

From left: Melissa Michaels, Gena Laramy, Brandon Higgins, Degache Fukiau, Hannah Fournaris, Silas Driver, Cassandra Coleman, Chrissy Burchette and Marisa Brizzolara at the white coat ceremony.

Speakers included department chair Melody M. Cash, PhD, and undergraduate nursing program director Laura A.G. Yoder, PhD, who are both registered nurses. Alumna Nancy W. Njoroge, a registered nurse who works at Western State Hospital in Staunton, Virginia, provided the keynote address.

The class of December 2019 includes Marisa Brizzolara, Chrissy Burchette, Cassandra Coleman, Silas Driver, Hannah Fournaris, Degache Fukiau, Brandon Higgins, Gena Laramy, Melissa Michaels, Jessica Miller, Emily Oyler, Felicia Plaugher, Travis Prince, Brittany Scott, Destiny Shifflett and Xue Zhao.

EMU’s nursing program held its first white coat ceremony in September 2016 with a grant from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation. The foundation partnered with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to offer these ceremonies at schools of nursing. EMU was one of 50 schools selected to receive the grant in 2016.

Alumna Nancy W. Njoroge, a registered nurse who works at Western State Hospital in Staunton, Virginia, provided the keynote address.

The white coat ceremony is a rite of passage for students entering clinical training in various healthcare fields. The tradition started at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 1993 and has since spread worldwide.

Each ceremony includes the sharing of the Hippocratic Oath or a similarly worded pledge specific to each profession and program. At EMU, the pledge includes acknowledgement and understanding of EMU’s Sacred Covenant model for nursing.

Before 1993, students only took this oath upon graduation. By taking the oath before clinical healthcare training begins, students — and the community that supports them — formally acknowledge their entry into the service of new professional responsibilities and ethical concerns.

The Nursing Pledge states:

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

  • Consider the welfare of humanity and relief of suffering my primary concerns;
  • 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;
  • Practice the lifelong obligation to improve my professional knowledge and competence;

    Nursing student Brittany Scott adjusts her coat.
  • Promote, advocate for, and strive to protect the health, safety, and rights of the patient; and
  • Carry out a personal philosophy of nursing grounded in EMU’s Sacred Covenant model for nursing.  

With this pledge, I accept the duties and responsibilities that embody the nursing profession.  I make this promise voluntarily with the full realization of the responsibility with which I am entrusted by the public.