Published on October 21, 2020 by Sara Roman  

On Oct. 18, Samford University’s Moffett & Sanders School of Nursing honored 82 Bachelor of Science in Nursing students during a virtual White Coat Ceremony. The ceremony was launched on Facebook Premiere with viewers joining live from watch parties hosted across the country to offer comments, reactions and encouragement. The students were comprised of members of the traditional, second-degree and transfer B.S.N. programs, all of whom began clinical courses this semester.

The purpose of the White Coat Ceremony is to instill a commitment to providing compassionate care among future health professionals. This commitment closely aligns with the core values of Moffett & Sanders School of Nursing, which was founded on the pillars of academic excellence, compassion, caring and service.

During the ceremony, Nina Harvey, assistant professor for Moffett & Sanders School of Nursing, shared the importance of the white coat. “This ceremony is a rite of passage,” said Harvey. “It signifies your readiness to transition from the classroom and lab to learning in the clinical setting. Yes, you will still have your instructors right by your side, but now you will also have your patients as teachers too. Let them teach you the art and science of nursing.”

“After starting clinical on the first day, I hope you will be reminded of this ceremony knowing that you and your peers were just beginning to understand the true role of a nurse. You are becoming caregivers, teachers, advocates, and this is just the start,” Harvey added.

In 2014, Moffett & Sanders School of Nursing was selected by The Arnold P. Gold Foundation and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing as one of 100 schools across the nation to participate in an inaugural White Coat Ceremony for nursing. Although the White Coat Ceremony has been a rite of passage in schools of medicine for more than 25 years, The Gold Foundation and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing recognized its significance for the nursing profession and joined together to support this event in schools of nursing across the United States.

Students received their white coats and a copy of the oath and pin provided by the Gold Foundation during the ceremony. The students are encouraged to wear this pin—a stethoscope in the shape of a heart, surrounded by the words "compassionate care"—on their coat to serve as a visual reminder of the commitment to always provide compassionate care.

Jan Paine, director of undergraduate student services for Moffett & Sanders School of Nursing, shared the story of her daughter’s birth to encourage the students to offer compassionate care. Upon delivery, Paine learned that her daughter had Down syndrome. Paine recalls being in shock, but within moments, her delivery nurse brought in a nurse who also had a daughter with Down syndrome. The next day a nurse who had established an early intervention program visited Paine and invited her daughter to be part of the program. “These women weren’t even my nurses but both of them chose to care for me and took the time to be part of my journey,” recalled Paine.

Later that day, Paine began to hemorrhage. As she was rolled to the operating room she was met by a nurse whom she had previously helped as a student. “She was so kind and assured me that she was there to help,” said Paine. “This all happened over 27 years ago but the impact these nurses had on me will last a lifetime. These nurses lived out Mrs. Moffett’s advice to care, get involved in a patient’s struggle, truly care. May your white coat serve as a reminder to have this same ambition and courage to care.”

Class president Lexi Murphy offered the invocation and Olivia Anne Ferguson, class chaplain, provided the scripture reading. Ashley Turner, instructor, led the students in a nurse’s poem and Jill Hightower, assistant professor, provided the closing remarks.

Watch the fall 2020 Moffett & Sanders School of Nursing White Coat Ceremony.