Nursing School Ushers Newest Group of Students Into Clinical Practice With White Coats

Feb 27, 2018 | Eleanor Mann School of Nursing

Susan Patton hugs a nursing student before he leaves the stage at the white coat ceremony.

Susan Patton hugs a nursing student before he leaves the stage at the white coat ceremony.

A white coat can symbolize professionalism in the medical field. For the past seven semesters, the Eleanor Mann School of Nursing at the University of Arkansas has welcomed new nursing students to clinical practice with a white coat ceremony.

“You are entering the clinical stage of your education,” said Susan Patton, interim director of the nursing school. “The patient will become your teacher.”

The clinical setting is the heart and soul of nursing education, she said.

Several of the faculty members on stage at the Feb. 15 event at Fayetteville High School to help students put their coats on were clinical instructors who will supervise the students while they gain practical experience in clinical settings such as hospitals.

The idea for white coat ceremonies for medical, nursing, and physician assistant programs was promoted by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, Patton said. The U of A is one of a select group of nursing schools in the United States that receive funding for pins that the students placed on the lapels of their coats.

Patton described one day while walking on campus when she overheard some nursing students talking. She knew they were nursing students because of the familiar red scrubs they wore, but they didn’t know she was director of the nursing school.

“I overheard a student ask, ‘What does it have to be so hard,'” she recalled. “That’s a legitimate question and it deserves an answer. It’s hard because of the nature of the profession. Every day when you go to work, you have the life of somebody’s child, somebody’s mother, somebody’s grandmother in your hands. It’s an awesome reward to be able to say you made a difference. There is nothing better.”

She also told the students they are the leaders who will make the American health-care system better.

Raquel Alvarado, associate chief nurse of acute services at Veterans Health Systems of the Ozarks, welcomed the students to the profession, and Lisa Franks, a U of A nursing instructor, led the students in the nursing student oath.

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