Egan School's White Coat Ceremony Kicks Off Health Care Careers

Egan School's White Coat Ceremony Kicks Off Health Care Careers

Hundreds of family members and friends gathered virtually to witness the prestigious ceremony and support Egan's Class of 2023 and second degree nursing students.

There are so many possibilities ahead of you, but one common thread runs through them all — the opportunity to make people’s lives better. There is no higher calling.

— Rep. Lauren Underwood

Class of 2023 and second degree Class of 2021 students in the Marion Peckham Egan School of Nursing and Health Studies traded their standard red and black scrubs for white coats at the annual White Coat Ceremony on Saturday, December 5, officially marking their entry into clinical practice.

Symbolic of their past studies, their present commitment, and their future careers, the white coat ceremony was originally reserved for medical students as a reminder of their commitment to patients and their promise to engage in patient-focused, humanistic care. In 2014, the tradition expanded to include other healthcare fields; for Fairfield students, the ceremony serves as both the starting point of their clinical practice and as a commemoration of the values they will carry with them as they set out into professional healthcare settings. 

Fairfield University President Mark R. Nemec, PhD offered words of inspiration to the Egan school students as they marked this milestone in their training. “While I share this sentiment every year, this year’s ceremony has even greater meaning as you are preparing to meet a world upended by a global pandemic," he told them. "Fairfield is committed to forming young women and men of purpose. Your answering of the call to be health professionals stands as an exemplar of this commitment.”

Guest speaker U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood (Illinois, 14th District), noted that her training as a nurse provided her with data-based grounding that has been central to her work in the House of Representatives.

She shared, “Fundamentally, nursing is about the intimate moments that you’ll have with your patients and their families at the bedside, answering their questions and addressing their fears [during] what might be the most difficult moments of their lives. That’s what White Coat ceremonies are all about. The traditions of compassion and patient-centered care have deep roots in the nursing profession. I’ve carried this spirit of compassion during my time in Congress.” 

In her keynote address, Rep. Underwood emphasized how nurses are making a difference as change agents in the community – as clinicians, researchers, policy advocates, faculty members, and as Congress members.

“There are so many possibilities ahead of you, but one common thread runs through them all — the opportunity to make people’s lives better. There is no higher calling,” she said. “As you prepare to do this critically important work, I hope you are feeling inspired and excited. You might feel a little nervous too, especially in the midst of Covid-19 – but just as nurses are desperately needed on the front lines of this public health crisis, you will continue to be needed long after the pandemic.”

By all accounts, the virtual ceremony was both joyous and moving. Students took an oath to live up to the high ideals of the Egan School and the nursing profession, and pledged to uphold their commitment to honesty, integrity and ethical practice, and to protect the welfare of their patients.

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Last modified: 12-10-20 11:22 AM

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