SUNY Downstate College of Nursing Holds Inaugural White Coat Ceremony

Nov 19, 2014

Brooklyn, NY – SUNY Downstate Medical Center’s College of Nursing recently held its inaugural White Coat Ceremony welcoming incoming nursing students. At the ceremony, 60 students newly enrolled in the College of Nursing’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program received white coats as a symbol of being welcomed into the profession. The class will graduate in 2015.

The College of Nursing was one of the first 100 nursing schools nationwide to be given a grant from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation (APGF) and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) for launching the nursing White Coat Ceremony. The White Coat Ceremony is designed to instill a commitment to providing compassionate care among healthcare professionals.

Though White Coat Ceremonies have been an important rite of passage at medical schools for more than 20 years, this new collaboration between APGF and AACN marks the first time a coordinated effort has been developed to offer similar events at schools of nursing. SUNY Downstate was one of only three nursing schools in New York State chosen to participate.

During the ceremony, each nursing student was presented and "cloaked" with his or her short white laboratory coat, formalizing the student's entrance into the profession, and presented with a lapel pin, provided by the Gold Foundation, to remind them of their commitment to high quality care. The students also recited a White Coat Ceremony Oath pledging dedication to the welfare of humanity and the relief of suffering, and accepting the duties and responsibilities of the nursing profession.

Daisy Cruz-Richman, PhD, RN, dean of the College of the Nursing, greeted the students and guests and reminded them that “the essence of nursing is compassion.”

The keynote speaker was Althea L. Mighten, EdD, DNP, APRN, BC, a graduate of Downstate’s College of Nursing and the director of nursing education and nursing recruitment at the Hospital for Joint Diseases, NYU Langone Medical Center.

Dr. Mighten encouraged the students to reflect on two questions: “What significant difference do I want to make in the lives of those I care for?” and “How will I know that my patients feel that they have been cared for?”

She asked the students to remember that patients are more likely to feel that they have been well cared for when they:

Are seen as unique persons, as evidenced by sustained eye contact, authentic communication, and the clinician remembering what is most important to them;

Are given the opportunity to be partners in care and are given explanations that fully prepare them to make appropriate decisions about their treatment;

Perceive that they are being touched with care and kindness;

See by the actions that are taken that they are being listened to and heard;

Perceive that the magnitude of their illness or injury is recognized and respected;

Are encouraged to feel a sense of hope and possibility;

Perceive that they are being treated with dignity and that caregivers will seek to preserve their dignity when conferring about them as well as with them;

Are supported to cope with and find meaning in their illness;

Feel safe and know that they will not be abandoned.

Dr. Mighten concluded by quoting Maya Angelou, who said, “People will not always remember what you say; they may not remember all you do; but they will always remember the way you made them feel.”

This year's incoming class at Downstate's College of Nursing Accelerated BS Program includes 57 students from New York State (95%), 54 students from New York City's five boroughs (90%), and 34 from Brooklyn (57%). Students range in age from 20 to 45; 44 (73%) are female; and 16 (27%) are male.

The Nursing White Coat Ceremony at Downstate was also supported by the SUNY Downstate College of Nursing Student Council.


About SUNY Downstate Medical Center

SUNY Downstate Medical Center, founded in 1860, was the first medical school in the United States to bring teaching out of the lecture hall and to the patient’s bedside. A center of innovation and excellence in research and clinical service delivery, SUNY Downstate Medical Center comprises a College of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Health Professions, a School of Graduate Studies, School of Public Health, University Hospital of Brooklyn, and a multifaceted biotechnology initiative including the Downstate Biotechnology Incubator and BioBAT for early-stage and more mature companies, respectively.

SUNY Downstate ranks twelfth nationally in the number of alumni who are on the faculty of American medical schools. More physicians practicing in New York City have graduated from SUNY Downstate than from any other medical school.