Male nursing student in classroom at N.C. A&T

School of Nursing at N.C. A&T to Hold First White Coat Ceremony

Greensboro, N.C. (May 10, 2017) – First-year nursing students at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University will celebrate their success during the School of Nursing’s first White Coat Ceremony, at 6 p.m., Friday, May 12, in Harrison Auditorium, on the university’s main campus.

The ceremony is a new addition for the school, which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, and an honor of distinction and excellence. Supported by a grant from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation (APGF) and The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), N.C. A&T and Duke University are the sole recipients of ceremony funding in North Carolina.  

“The purpose of this White Coat Ceremony aligns with our mission to provide an environment of academic excellence to educate and prepare students to become professional nurses committed to lifelong learning, scholarly inquiry, civility and service, which will enhance the health and wellness of diverse communities,” said Dr. Terry Ward, interim director/associate dean of the School of Nursing, of the significance of the ceremony. “It emphasizes our core values of accountability, responsibility and professionalism in nursing practice.”

The White Coat Ceremony typically consists of the recitation of an oath publicly reaffirming students’ commitment to their central obligation of caring for the patient and dedication to maintain compassion in combination with scientific excellence. Additionally, the ceremony includes an address by an eminent role model, and a reception for students and invited guests.

Retired United States Air Force Major, certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA) and university alumnus James B. Goode will deliver the keynote address. Goode served 28 years in the Air Force and as a member of the North Carolina Air National Guard. While serving, he was deployed to Saudi Arabia as an intensive care unit nurse after 9/11 and to Afghanistan and South Korea as a CRNA in 2007 and 2009, respectively. While conducting his CRNA duties he and another CRNA were solely responsible for a few thousand people at each location.

Today, Goode volunteers with the Diversity in Nurse Anesthesia Mentorship program that informs, empowers and mentors underserved populations in preparation for successful careers in nurse anesthesia.

During the ceremony, students will receive a specially designed pin serving as a visual reminder of their oath and commitment to provide compassionate and high quality care.

Fifty schools of nursing across the nation were selected by the APGF and AACN to receive funding support to host White Coat Ceremonies for the 2016-17 academic year. To date, 160 nursing schools in 46 states plus the District of Columbia have received financial support and guidance to offer a White Coat Ceremony, expanding the schools that offer the ceremony to 210 institutions nationwide.

"White Coat Ceremonies highlight the important role compassion plays in providing patient-centered care and improving health outcomes," said Dr. Juliann Sebastian, chair of the AACN Board of Directors. "With health care becoming more interprofessional and team-driven, nurses, physicians, and other providers must embed humanism in their practice as a way to elevate the patient care experience."

Recent graduates of A&T’s School of Nursing boasted a more than 90 percent pass rate for the latest licensure and certification exams (notably exceeding the required 85 percent passage benchmark set by the University of North Carolina Board of Governors), building upon 18 months of stellar growth and success for the program.

Though White Coat Ceremonies have been conducted by medical schools for more than 20 years, the APGF-AACN initiative marks the first time a coordinated effort has been developed to offer similar events at schools of nursing. Nursing joins the growing number of health professions that offer "cloaking" ceremonies, including dentistry, pharmacy, physical therapy, and physician assistants among other disciplines.