Anxious students sat and listened as faculty members spoke of the importance of the short white coats that hung on their chairs. They heard words such as “symbolic”, “professional” and “life and death.”
“This is the most trusted profession there is,” said Dr. Melissa Dyo, associate professor in the School of Nursing. “As nurses, you are doing it more than for a paycheck. Nursing is so much more.”
The students at the Daniel Recital Hall last week were waiting for the moment they received their official jacket as part of the prestigious White Coat Ceremony. More than 100 schools nationwide stage a White Coat Ceremony, considered it a rite of passage toward a healthcare career. This was the first such ceremony held at Cal State Long Beach.
At the end of the ceremony, each student put on their white jackets and received a pin, signifying their entry into nursing.
Loucine Huckabay, director of LBSU’s School of Nursing, told the 78 students that by wearing a short white coat, they were “stepping over the threshold of being any student into the nursing program,” then gave them a stern warning.
She said that one misplaced decimal point on a medicine dosage could cause harm or even death to a patient. Therefore, they need to pay close attention and learn from their professors over the next five semesters of the rigorous, yet highly acclaimed program.
Barrie Reinschreiber, a transfer from Santa Monica College, said a serious of chest surgeries led him to pursue a career in nursing. He was born with a chest deformity that required several hospital stays, and interactions with medical personnel.
“It motivated me and I thought I could do a good job at it,” Reinschreiber said.
Jordan Moline called getting her white coat “a monumental symbol” of her accomplishments.
“It’s the crowning achievement of my life so far,” she said. “This is daunting, but exciting.”
Assistant professor Anita Fitzgerald gave the students six lessons she learned in teaching nursing, including to “never forget the passion that brought you here” and “expect to face challenges.”
“Wear this coach with pride,” Fitzgerald said. “You don’t just represent nursing, but Cal State Long Beach nursing.”