Earlier this month, the Fetterman School of Nursing held their annual White Coat Ceremony. The Coating Ceremony is a time to celebrate our first semester nursing students’ transition into clinical practice settings. The history of the White Coat Ceremony is founded in medical education. The first White Coat Ceremony took place in 1993 at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. Recognizing the impact of this ceremony on medical students, this idea has since transferred to nursing education as a way of recognizing the vital role nurses play in the healthcare team.  The white coat symbolizes professionalism, caring, and trust, all elements which nursing students should seek to earn from patients in their provision of nursing care.  

During this ceremony, not only does each student don their white coat but they also receive their nursing lamp. The lamp dates back to the 1800’s and the founder of nursing, a British nurse named Florence Nightingale. In her teen years, Nightingale believed she received a calling from God to help the poor and the sick. In following this calling, she spent much time caring for patients, including soldiers of the Crimean War. During her evening rounds, she moved through the dark hallways carrying a lamp, ministering to patient after patient. The soldiers, who were both moved and comforted by her endless supply of compassion, took to calling her “the Lady with the Lamp.” 

May the white coat and the lamp be constant reminders to our students of the vitalness of humanism, professionalism, care, comfort, trust, and so many other elements that will prove to be valuable as they journey to become the professional, competent, caring Christian nurses that God has called them to be.