Fairmont State holds white coat ceremonies for nursing students


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FAIRMONT, W.Va. – On Friday afternoon, Aug. 27, Fairmont State University hosted white coat ceremonies for roughly 120 nursing students.

These students have received an undergraduate degree and will be going on to two years of nursing school. Dean of FSU’s nursing school, Laura Clayton, said the ceremonies signify the transition of the student from being just a college student into a clinical perspective with nursing and into clinical practicums. Clayton said the pomp and circumstance of the ceremonies are worthwhile because it marks a significant milestone in the students’ journey to becoming healthcare professionals.

Nursing student receives her white coat

“That’s important because the history of medicine, the history of nursing, is very steeped in tradition, so this is another way that we can orient the students that are coming into our nursing profession to the traditions that are important to us,” Clayton said. “So, we want to share that with them, welcome them as our colleagues because they’re starting that journey toward becoming our full-time colleagues.”

One of the speakers during the ceremonies was FSU President Mirta Martin.

Martin shared with students how she believes that nursing is “one of the most noble professions on the face of the Earth”.

“And so, seeing these individuals answer a call to serve others is touching,” Martin said. “And, I am so proud of our students at Fairmont State University who, continually, put in place community over self, other’s welfare before their own, and that is evident by these nurses who continue to answer the call of duty to serve humanity, even in the midst of a pandemic.”

Nursing students walking into their white coat ceremony

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Clayton said, students, are entering nursing school in “an unprecedented time”.

“It’s still going to continue for a while, so it’s important for us to share that with our students that they’re part of history and that we’re trying to prepare them for what’s occurring today, but also what’s going to occur in the next few years and several years down the road,” Clayton said. “We’re trying to make them as leaders, advocates for their patients, critical thinkers, problem solvers, so we’re really instilling a lot of skills that they’re going to need throughout their curriculum.” 

Both Clayton and Martin said they were proud of every student.

Martin described it as a “momentous event” in the lives of students. She said it was a “tremendous honor” to be part of the ceremonies.

Students waiting outside before the white coat ceremony

She said FSU made sure that the pandemic did not interrupt the “rituals, the traditions that are part of an educational journey”.

“For the nurses, the white coat ceremony and the pinning ceremony, at the beginning and the end, are critical — critical areas and critical steps for that journey, so I’m grateful that we’re able to maintain those rights, these ceremonies, and that our students will remember this rite of passage for as long as they live,” Martin said.

Clayton said she was proud of each and every student and glad that the ceremonies could go on, even during a pandemic.

Nursing student receives her white coat

“I am so proud of them,” Clayton said. “You know, I welcome them. I love having my new colleagues and then getting to celebrate them when they become my official colleagues after they graduate, then seeing them in clinical practice; whether it’s caring for somebody I know, family members, etc. And seeing how excited and how well they do, that’s what I love about this position is I really get to see how they grow, how they change and hopefully nurture them along the way a little bit. And, they can remember something I share with them and how important this program has been to them to make them the nurse that they are.” 

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