Georgia College School of Nursing (SON) hosted its White Coat Ceremony on Oct. 29, a rite of passage to emphasize the importance of compassionate patient care at the very start of training.
2020 is the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. Nurses and midwives play a vital role in providing health services. These students decided to devote their lives to caring for mothers and children; giving lifesaving immunizations and health advice; looking after older people and meeting everyday essential health needs. They may become the first and only point of care in their communities. The world needs 9 million more nurses and midwives if it is to achieve universal health coverage by 2030.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremony this year was a hybrid, with students socially-distanced and family and friends watching remotely. Fifty-six new students recited an oath with a commitment to humanistic — compassionate, collaborative and scientifically excellent — patient care.
Students came forward during the ceremony to be “cloaked” by Dr. Sheri Noviello (Dean of the College of Health Science), Dr. Deborah MacMillan (Director of SON), Dr. Debbie Greene (Assistant Director SON), Dr. Jennifer Goldsberry and Dr. Catherine Fowler; before family and friends in the iconic white coat that signifies their status as healthcare professionals. Students received a lapel pin from the Gold Foundation to serve as a visual reminder to keep the human elements in the care of their patients at all times. The ceremony ended with a candle light service during which the student recited their oath. Students reported being mindful of the importance of the nursing profession and the seriousness of the study they are undertaking.
The first White Coat Ceremony took place in 1993 at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. At the time, Dr. Arnold Gold, co-founder of The Arnold P. Gold Foundation, was also a Professor of Clinical Neurology and Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at the school. Dr. Gold, a passionate advocate for humanistic health care, believed that the oath taken by new physicians at the end of medical school came too late. Through the nonprofit organization dedicated to humanistic healthcare that he and his wife, Dr. Sandra Gold, started, The Arnold P. Gold Foundation has expanded the White Coat Ceremony around the globe.
Today, hundreds of nursing schools, nearly every medical school in the United States, and many other health profession schools around the globe participate in this tradition of humanistic care.
“Since 1993, The White Coat Ceremony has been an early and essential touchpoint of humanism on the path of a healthcare professional,” said Dr. Richard I. Levin, president and CEO of The Gold Foundation. “Today, as we are facing the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and racism, the White Coat Ceremony is all the more relevant in emphasizing the importance of the human connection in healthcare. We are grateful for the leadership of Georgia College SON in elevating the message, both during the ceremony and throughout the years of education, that empathy and respect are critical parts of optimal care.”
The Gold Foundation champions the human connection in healthcare. The foundation engages schools and their students, health systems, companies, and individual clinicians in the joy and meaning of humanistic health care, so that patients and their families can be partners in collaborative, compassionate and scientifically excellent care.
The foundation’s other programs include the Gold Humanism Honor Society, the Hope Babette Tang Humanism in Medicine Essay Contest, Tell Me More®, an initiative to encourage personal communication, as well as the Gold Corporate Council and Gold Partners Council, made up of medical and healthcare institutions and corporations that recognize, support and forward the human connection in health care.
For more information about the White Coat Ceremony and the Gold Foundation, visit www.gold-foundation.org.