Inaugural White Coat Ceremony

On Friday, June 3, 2016, the UCSF School of Nursing held the inaugural White Coat Ceremony for the Master’s Entry Program in Nursing (MEPN) students. Led by Assistant Dean and MEPN Managing Director Kris Warner, the new MEPN students participated in a celebration and ritual leading to their new status as student professionals. Established by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation in 1933, the White Coat Ceremony (Ceremony) is a way to welcome new students into the healthcare professions. A critical element of the ceremony is the oath that students take in front of family members, school leadership and peers. The oath acknowledges their primary role as care givers.

Photographer Susan Merrell takes a photo of our newest cohort of MEPN students.

As Assistant Dean Warner explained, the Ceremony and the oath serve as a rite of passage and are further commemorated by lapel pins from the Foundation. The pins contain an inscription about humanism in nursing and serve as a visual reminder to students that in order to deliver the best care to their patients, compassion and empathy must be the hallmark of their clinical practice. Assistant Dean Warner provided a brief history of the Ceremony to the crowd noting that the first full-fledged White Coat Ceremony took place at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons at the urging of Dr. Arnold P. Gold, who was then Professor of Clinical Neurology and Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Columbia. At the time, Dr. Gold noted that the existing practice of having students take the Hippocratic oath at the end of their training occurred four years too late. Grants from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation helped advance the White Coat Ceremony more broadly. In 2014, the Gold Foundation partnered with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) to support a pilot program that has seen 160 nursing schools adopt the Gold-AACN White Coat Ceremony for Nursing. Today’s Ceremony is especially significant as it is the first of its kind for the School.

Audience gathers for start of MEPN White Coat Ceremony in UCSF's Cole Hall.

School of Nursing Dean David Vlahov and Associate Dean, Academic Programs, Judy Martin-Holland expressed their introductory remarks and warm welcomes. Following these remarks, the Association of California Nurse Leaders (ACNL) Chief Executive Officer Patricia McFarland, MS, RN, FAAN, gave the keynote address. McFarland has been ACNL’s CEO since 1995. In her role, she also serves as executive officer of the California Nursing Students Association and the California Association of Colleges of Nursing. In 2013, she was instrumental in collaborating with the California Action Coalition and the Kaiser Foundation to launch a nurse leader mentoring program across California, which pairs experienced nurse leaders with aspiring ones through a six-month mentoring relationship.

Patricia McFarland delivers keynote at UCSF 2016 MEPN White Coat Ceremony.

McFarland, a distinguished graduate of the UCSF School of Nursing, expressed her delight in returning to UC to speak to the next generation of nursing leaders. She reminded students to always introduce themselves to patients as a Registered Nurse and to take solace and support in their fellow classmates, faculty, and family throughout their studies at the School. Her keynote offered students a personal, heartfelt, and sagacious repertoire of insight, advice, and areas of focus as they begin their journeys in the profession. McFarland emphasized the need to stay open to faculty input and guidance and to embrace the nursing profession’s history of life-long learning.

2016 MEPN students approach the podium and stage to receive their white coats and pins.

Each new MEPN student was then announced and helped by Dean Vlahov with their white coat. Then Associate Dean Martin-Holland pinned their lapels. The photo gallery below shares moments from today’s inaugural Ceremony. Welcome 2016 MEPNs!

MEPNs leaving the 2016 White Coat Ceremony to celebrate with friends, faculty, colleagues, and family.