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New White Coats Mark Transition for Nurse Practitioner Students

Thirty nurse practitioner students of the inaugural class of the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies recently received a white coat and pin in a special ceremony, symbolizing the start of their role as clinicians who pledge to deliver patient-centered, compassionate care.

The nurses will begin their clinical training at various Northwell Health hospitals and facilities in September.  They already have completed one year of study in the three-year program and are expected to graduate in 2018.

“The white coat is  a symbolic sign for nurse practitioner students as they transition from the classroom to their training as clinicians in healthcare settings,”  said Kathleen Gallo, PhD, MBA, RN, FAAN, dean and professor of the school of graduate nursing, who welcomed students and more than  150 people who attended the ceremony held at Hofstra University.  “It marks the beginning of a lifelong professional journey and serves as a daily reminder of the commitment nurse practitioners make to provide humanistic, patient-centered care.”

The keynote speaker for the evening’s program was Deborah Trautman, PhD, RN, president and chief executive officer of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.  Dr. Trautman shared a personal story of her early days as an emergency department nurse when she comforted an elderly man whose wife of 50 years died in the hospital.  “Don’t underestimate the value of small moments of empathy,” Dr. Trautman said.  “This ceremony tonight highlights the importance of compassion in clinical training and your career.”

Dr. Gallo was joined by faculty members in draping the 30 students with white coats.  The nurse practitioner students also received a specially designed pin that serves as a visual reminder of their oath and commitment to providing empathy and excellence in patient care.  The ceremony concluded with the students reciting an original oath written by their class.  Following the event, a reception was held for students, family members, friends and faculty.

The school was among 50 nursing schools nationwide that were awarded funding to host white coat ceremonies, which was supported by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and The Arnold P. Gold Foundation.

Although white coat ceremonies have been held at medical schools for more than 20 years, the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing collaborated in 2013 to create  a program that would offer similar events for the first time at schools of nursing. Nursing joins the growing number of health professions that offer “cloaking” ceremonies such as dentistry, pharmacy and physician assistants.

The three-year, part-time program leads to a Master of Science degree in nursing as a family nurse practitioner or an adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner.  In addition to nursing, the school houses Hofstra University’s two existing programs in Physician Assistant Studies – a dual degree program and a graduate program.  The programs are designed to meet the increasing need for nurse practitioners and physician assistants to deliver community-based care.

The Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies builds on the holistic, patient-centered approach in place at the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine as an educational model that focuses on treating people, rather than illnesses, and emphasizes caring for people in their communities.

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