Posted on Dec 3, 2019

Doctoral Nursing Graduates Don White Coats

Doctoral Nursing Graduates Don White Coats

The USF College of Nursing ushered 19 doctoral graduates into the nursing profession during a traditional White Coat Ceremony celebrating their academic milestone on Dec. 3.

Graduates were presented with white coats, a symbol of their entrance into the profession as doctorally prepared nurses. The ceremony, held in the college’s Gathering Space, is a rite of passage for students transitioning into the health care profession.

The college will officially confer a Doctor of Nursing Practice or PhD degree to the students at USF Health’s Dec. 14 commencement ceremony in the Yuengling Center.

College of Nursing Dean Victoria L. Rich, PhD, RN, FAAN, congratulated the graduates and encouraged them to continue the tradition of excellence into the next phase of their nursing careers.

“The mission of our nursing college is one that resonates with who we are as a nursing profession and sustains ways of improving care for our citizens. And we are beginning to have such a solid local imprint,” she said.

Student speaker Alyssa King, president of the USF Doctoral Nursing Student Organization and a member of the Bull Nurse Admissions Team, urged her fellow graduates to join the health advocacy movement and challenged them to always look at problems through the “student lens.”

King is graduating with a Doctor of Nursing Practice in the pediatric primary care concentration while also completing the nursing education certificate program. 

“It has been a long, trying journey, but we have all made it,” she said. “I know from personal experience that it is not easy. Through all of this, we have persevered.”

King made the initial push for the college to include the White Coat Ceremony as part of the doctoral celebrations. The college introduced the White Coat Ceremony during its summer doctoral graduation in July.

This year, USF College of Nursing was among 50 nursing schools selected to hold their first White Coat Ceremony with financial assistance from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

Denise Maguire, PhD, RN, CNL, FAAN, vice dean of graduate nursing programs, described the history and significance of the white coat ceremony, which began in 1993 at Columbia University thanks to pediatric neurologist Dr. Arnold Gold.

Dr. Gold “worried that the connection between patients and those who care for them was fraying. The human connection – the careful listening, the paying attention to patient and their families – remained essential no matter how much machines could tell us,” said Maguire.

During the 45-minute ceremony, graduates were presented with their white coats while the title of their doctoral projects or dissertations were read. They received a commemorative nursing medallion and, as a group, recited the international nurse pledge.

In the early afternoon poster presentation, students explained their doctoral research projects.

Project topics included improving care for homeless patients by renovating the Pinellas Hope Medical Clinic, developing a nutritional pain management initiative, and evaluating the clinical protocol for knee osteoarthritis in primary care.

Nursing faculty awarded ribbons to the top three posters. The poster winners were:

First place for “A Quality Improvement Initiative to Reduce Heart Failure Hospital 30-day Readmission Rates by Implementing a Nurse Practitioner Led Multi-Disciplinary Transitional Care Clinic,” presented by Jennifer Bishop and Melissa Joseph.

Second place for “Development and Implementation of a Pediatric Bullying Education Presentation Specific to the Role of School Nurses,” presented by Alyssa King.

Third place for “Improving Oncology Telephonic Triage Nursing,” presented by Maria Czupryn and Melissa Thebeau.

Story by Elizabeth L. Brown, USF College of Nursing