Nursing Student Cohort 12 Welcomed to Campus with White Coat Ceremony

SON White Coat Ceremony
September 09, 2016

For the George Washington University School of Nursing (SON), it was the largest cohort yet. More than 90 nursing students gathered in Ashburn, Virginia, for introductions, words of encouragement from faculty members and some GW SON traditions to mark their first day as nursing students. For many of the students in attendance, the White Coat Ceremony was their first step on the path to a career in nursing, and took place during student orientation in late August.

“My favorite thing is the energy,” said Dr. Billinda Tebbenhoff, the associate dean for undergraduate studies. “The faculty are getting ready for a new semester, and students are getting ready for a whole new phase in life. There’s the anticipation of getting to know one another, the excitement of starting something new.”

After some brief remarks from Dr. Pamela Jeffries, Dean and Professor of the School of Nursing, Dr. Tebbenhoff presided over the White Coat Ceremony, in which students don their GW SON white coats for the first time.

“The White Coat Ceremony punctuates the fact that this is a new endeavor and a new profession. It’s not just a degree; many people say it’s a calling,” Dr. Tebbenhoff said. “It signifies that they’re stepping into something new that comes with tremendous responsibility.”

During the ceremony the BSN students received their white coats and took a ceremonial oath, pledging to “accept the duties and responsibilities that embody the nursing profession.”

While White Coat Ceremonies have been a rite of passage at medical schools for more than 20 years, marking students’ initiation into their profession, schools of nursing have rarely held similar traditions.

The SON conducted their first White Coat Ceremony in 2014 when the Arnold P. Gold Foundation (APGF) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AANC) provided funding for 100 nursing schools, including GW SON, to pilot similar events around the country. They funded the inaugural ceremonies in an effort to send a message to new nursing students that compassionate care must be a hallmark of their clinical practice. The SON has since made it an annual event.