FAIRMONT — As soft music played in Colebank Gym Friday evening, Fairmont State University nursing students stepped onto a stage and were helped into white coats.
It was a special moment for both the students and the university as the School of Nursing inaugurated a new tradition known as the White Coat Ceremony.
According to Fairmont State, “the white coat marks a student’s transition from pre-nursing to entrance into clinical nursing practice or for RNs who are continuing their education.”
The university states that “the white coat symbolizes the nursing student’s vow to provide comprehensive and compassionate patient-centered care.” As they stood on stage, nursing faculty helped the students by “cloaking” them with the coats.
Those taking part in the ceremony were students in the first semester of their Associate of Science in Nursing program, Licensed Practical Nurse to ASN program or Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program.
Laura Clayton, Associate Dean of the School of Nursing, was happy to see the ceremony begun at the university.
“At my previous employer, we implemented a White Coat Ceremony. So that was a new tradition I wanted to start here at Fairmont State,” Clayton said. “The White Coat Ceremony really symbolizes the students’ transition from being just a student to moving into the clinical practice and providing compassionate care to the patients in need.”
She said the ceremony is a growing trend, moving from medicine into nursing and many other healthcare professions.
ASN student Erica Akers of Putnam County was in the very first group of students who stepped onto the stage to be cloaked with their white coats. She thought it was an honor.
“It’s just really special,” she said.
Standing beside her was Kacie Barnett of Clarksburg, also in the ASN program. She thought the experience was both “nerve-wracking” and “exciting.”
Barnett said she felt proud to have gotten her white coat.
One of the faculty members who was cloaking the students, Ellen Condron, associate professor of psychiatric nursing, said, “It was a very fulfilling experience.” She said it gave her a “real warm feeling” to cloak the students in the coats.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am for you,” said main speaker Daphne K. Scordanto, vice president of patient care service for Mon Health Medical Center.
Mon Health has partnered with Fairmont State, which has resulted in eight additional nursing students admitted. Scordanto told the students that the faculty were there to help them succeed, and she assured them that “you can do hard things.”
“Hard brings a sense of accomplishment,” she said.
She told the students that they would never stop learning, noting that she’s still learning today.
Emphasizing that nursing is a calling, Clayton told the students, “you have answered that calling.”
University president Mirta Martin, meanwhile, said that nursing was one of the most noble professions, and she hoped that Friday’s ceremony was the beginning of many memorable experiences.