The SON Holds Inaugural White Coat Ceremony

On September 21st, friends and family packed Memorial Hall to watch as 146 BSN students marked the beginning of their nursing education in a White Coat Ceremony.

During the ceremony, students heard inspiring remarks from Thelma M. Ingles Professor of Nursing Marilyn H. Oermann. Dr. Oermann, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN, served as the Frances Hill Fox Term Distinguished Professor and Chair of Adult and Geriatric Health at the SON before taking her current position at the Duke University School of Nursing. As a scholar who focuses on nursing education, Dr. Oermann encouraged students to learn as much as they possibly can about the science behind healthcare, yet to remember their first priority should always be compassion for people under their care.

Each student crossed the stage to receive a white coat, a pin, and a handshake from Interim Dean Donna S. Havens, PhD, RN, FAAN. The students were cloaked by Julianne Page, MSN, RN, Eric Hodges, PhD, RN, and Shielda Rodgers, PhD, RN, who represented the SON faculty, along with UNC Hospitals Director of Nursing Practice William Bevill, MSN, RN, SON Alumni Association President Roulhac Johnson, BSN ’00, and President of the SON Foundation Margaret Raynor, MEd, BSN ’67. Students also received a commemorative bookmark with a pledge to compassionate care printed on it. The students and nurses in the audience were invited to recite the pledge at the end of the ceremony.

The SON is one of 100 nursing schools selected to receive funding from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation to hold a White Coat Ceremony. The foundation, which has sponsored white coat ceremonies at medical schools since 1993, partnered with the Association of Colleges of Nursing to extend the opportunity to nursing schools. By supporting ceremonies at nursing schools, the foundation is hoping to symbolically demonstrate the value of all members of the health care team.

The ceremony was designed by pediatric oncologist, Arnold Gold, who called the white coat a “cloak of compassion.” It is meant to welcome new students into their chosen health care profession and to establish an expectation that students demonstrate empathy as well as scientific proficiency in delivering medical care.

Click the box below to view a photo slideshow from the ceremony and the Open House at Carrington Hall.

About the Arnold P. Gold Foundation (APGF): As a growing, international not-for-profit organization we have a critical mission: to optimize the experience and outcomes of health care for both patients and practitioners by promoting care that is as humanistic as it is technologically sophisticated. The Arnold P. Gold Foundation works with physicians and nurses in training and in practice, as well as other members of the healthcare team, to instill a culture of respect, dignity and compassion for both patients and professionals. When skilled practitioners build caring, trusting and collaborative relationships with patients, studies reveal more appropriate medical decisions, better patient adherence with treatment plans, and less costly healthcare outcomes. Learn more at