NYIT nursing students at the first White Coat Ceremony.


It’s a First: Nursing Students Receive White Coats

November 7, 2016

During a ceremony on November 2, students in the NYIT nursing program received their white coats for the first time. In fact, the rite of passage is new for nurses in general; it was first introduced in 2014 as a way to recognize the vital role that nurses play in the healthcare system and to symbolize their entry into the clinical phase of nursing. In just two years, more than 200 schools are participating.

“This ceremony sets the professional tone for these students,” said Susan Neville, Ph.D., professor and chair of Nursing. “It’s important for everyone to realize the role of the nurse as a valued team member in the healthcare system.”

Jerry Balentine, D.O., vice president for medical affairs and global health, opened the ceremony. Then keynote speaker, Launette Woolforde, Ed.D., vice president for system nursing education and professional development at Northwell Health, took the stage. She reminded the audience that nursing has come a very long way. “I didn’t have this experience when I was a nursing student. You’ve been afforded this opportunity to pause and reflect on your academic journey, how far you’ve come, and how far you’ll go. It’s time to put your learning into doing,” she said.

Woolforde also reminded the students how privileged they are to be studying in such a respected program. “You have to stay focused and committed to the mission that this institution has instilled in you,” she said.

More than 100 guests gathered to witness the students pledge their commitment to caring for patients, their families, and their communities, locally, nationally, and globally. Traditionally, students in their junior year participate in the ceremony, but since this was the first year NYIT held the event, seniors were also invited to receive their white coats.

After pledging the oath, Pegah Shahbazi, the senior class representative, and Christina Rodriguez, the representative for the junior class, gave closing remarks.

“We are extremely fortunate to learn from our seasoned professors here at NYIT,” said Shahbazi. “Although being a nurse isn’t about grades. No class can teach you how to tell their family that their parents have died or are dying. Being a nurse is not about medications or documentation; it’s about being able to love people when they are at their weakest moments.”

As Neville pointed out, healthcare is a profession that requires not only technical skills and theoretical knowledge, but also compassion.

“I think it’s such an honor to start wearing a white coat,” added Rodriguez. “This is a historic moment where nurses are being recognized for having much more knowledge and that the nursing profession is becoming much more reputable.”