White coat and pinning ceremonies recognize nursing students for hard work and dedication

On Friday, April 22, junior and senior Nursing students gathered in Hayes Auditorium to receive their white coats and commemorative pins, important symbols of all that they have accomplished so far in the nursing program.

At Lees-McRae, white coats are typically presented to nursing students in their junior year of the BSN program as a rite of passage. The ceremony celebrates the students’ hard work and commitment to their studies, but also has a particular focus on patient care, a theme which is carried over into nursing practice as well.

Because the COVID-19 pandemic affected in-person ceremonies in 2021, seniors who were unable to receive their coats last year shared in this special day with their junior classmates.

“This practice started with medical students in 1993, but in 2014, with recognition of the vital role that nurses play in healthcare and as a significant part of the healthcare team, the Gold Foundation partnered with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to adopt a similar ceremony,” Assistant Dean of Nursing Evelyn Brewer said. “The ceremony is about patient-centered care, compassion, and scientific excellence.”

This year’s guest speaker was Robyn Seamon, a certified trans-cultural nurse, who focuses her work on the rural Appalachian region. Seamon has been a registered nurse for over 35 years, giving her a wealth of knowledge and experience to bestow on the nursing students of Lees-McRae.

Seamon also holds a master's degree in Appalachian Studies from Appalachian State University, which she now uses in conjunction with her extensive knowledge of nursing to provide cultural sensitivity training for healthcare professionals practicing in the Appalachian Region through her company, Appalachian Healthcare Training and Consulting..

“Robyn is passionate about utilizing her trans-cultural knowledge to continue to see improvement in health equity in marginalized, rural populations,” Brewer said.

After sharing the story of her journey through the nursing field with the students, Seamon encouraged the students to act on the sense of duty involved with being a nurse. She explained that nursing is a calling, one that is proven by the desire to push through all the difficulties of the job, from long hours to the novel challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I’m sure you had moments when you felt like you didn’t want to come back for another day, but you’ve made it through. Your flexibility and adaptability, and all the skills that you’ve learned going through the pandemic are going to really benefit you, your patients, and your coworkers,” Seamon said.

Juniors and seniors were cloaked by Brewer, after which they recognized their commitment to high-quality care and services by reciting the White Coat Oath:

As a nurse dedicated to providing the highest quality care and services, I solemnly pledge that I will:

  • Consider the welfare of humanity and relief of suffering my primary concerns.
  • Act in a compassionate and trustworthy manner in all aspects of my care.
  • Apply my knowledge, experience, and skills to the best of my ability to assure optimal outcomes for my patients.
  • Exercise sound professional judgement while abiding by legal and ethical requirements.
  • Accept the lifelong obligation to improve my professional knowledge and competence.
  • Promote, advocate for, and strive to protect the health, safety, and rights of the patient.

Graduating seniors then received their pin in a ceremony that Brewer said traces back to the 12th century, when knights who aided the sick were presented with a Maltese cross to wear as a symbol of their service.

“The BSN pinning ceremony is very much the same as a white coat ceremony, but it emphasizes the entering into professional practice at the end of your nursing program,” Brewer said. “The pinning ceremony isn’t just a tradition, it’s a symbol of nursing students’ hard work and dedication toward their course work and clinicals.”

While the Maltese cross was the prevailing design of this honor for years, it is now customary for each school of nursing to design their own pin to represent different meanings for their graduates. Graduating seniors were presented with a pin depicting the shield of Lees-McRae.

After receiving their pins, the seniors honored their commitment to nursing once again with a group recitation of the Nurses’ Pledge:

I solemnly pledge myself to the service of humanity and endeavor to practice my profession with conscience and with dignity.

I will maintain by all means in my power the honor and the noble tradition of my profession.

The total health of my patients will be my first consideration.

I will hold in confidence all personal matters coming to my knowledge.

I will not permit consideration of religion, nationality, race, or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patient.

I will maintain the utmost respect for human life.

I make these promises solemnly, freely, and upon my honor.

Following the ceremony, the students and their proud families, friends, and professors enjoyed a celebration with refreshments and cake in the May School of Nursing and Health Sciences.

By Maya JarrellApril 29, 2022
AcademicsCampus Life