GSW’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences holds inaugural White Coat Ceremony

Published 12:39 pm Sunday, March 3, 2019

From Staff Reports

AMERICUS — For the first time in Georgia Southwestern State University’s history, the College of Nursing and Health Sciences held a White Coat Ceremony on Tuesday to recognize 40 junior nursing students’ transition from the classroom to the clinical setting. The white coat signifies their role and status as a healthcare professional.
“This is a historic event as it is the first for our university, and I know that it will become a time-honored tradition as we move forward,” said College of Nursing and Health Sciences Dean Sandra Daniel, Ph.D. “White coat ceremonies have long been a ritual for medical students, and such ceremonies now encompass other healthcare professions, including nursing.”
The White Coat Ceremony, initiated in 1993, by world-renowned pediatric neurologist Arnold P. Gold, Ph.D., was designed to recognize the important milestone of successfully completing the first semester in the nursing program. This recognition establishes a student’s commitment to deliver high quality, compassionate care and to instill a culture of respect and dignity for patients and professionals. The significance of the white coat ceremony acts as a rite of passage as students embark on their nursing career.
“As members of the largest healthcare profession, nurses deliver care to millions of individuals each day, and our patients place their trust in us,” said Daniel. “Our students are obligated to adhere to a code of ethics and standards of practice.”
During GSW’s inaugural ceremony, nursing students recited an oath, signed the honor pledge, and were cloaked in the iconic white coat embroidered with the GSW School of Nursing logo, all before their family and friends.
Bonnie Simmons, Ph.D., recently retired professor of nursing, served as the ceremony’s keynote speaker. After having been a member of GSW’s nursing faculty for the past 25 years, she could attest to the commitment of earning a white coat. “It’s a badge of honor showing the result of many hard hours of work and dedication,” she said.
Farrah Sechrist, an Americus native, is a third-generation nurse and was one of the first white coat honorees at Tuesday’s ceremony. “Nursing has always been a part of my life with my mother and grandmother being nurses, and I am proud to follow in their footsteps,” she stated. “This journey has been challenging at times but very rewarding for me and my classmates. I am eager to see what we accomplish in the future!”
Among other honorees at the ceremony were second-generation nurses and GSW student-athletes, including women’s soccer player Michelle Gustavson and women’s basketball player Tamecia Blue. “My mother actually just graduated last year from nursing and she is my motivation,” said Blue.
“We congratulate you on getting to this point,” said GSW President Neal Weaver, “but we also look forward to what lies ahead — the commitment you are making to the profession, to the patients, and to the people in the communities you will serve throughout your career.”