Office of Communications and Marketing
While attending Merrimack’s Professional Development Retreat, Grant Jackson ’23 networked his way into a summer internship in the coastal town of Rockport, Mass.
Executive Director of Nursing Lynne Sheppard in the School of Health Sciences remembers, as a nurse, holding the hand of a patient to help them relax while undergoing a painful procedure and wants her students working toward a bachelor of science in nursing to remember they, too, will need to be compassionate toward their patients someday.
To that end, the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and the American Association of Colleges of Nursing have given a one-time grant funding a special White Coat Ceremony to inspire compassionate and patient-centered care among those entering the nursing profession. The ceremony is scheduled to be held in the Rogers Center for the Arts Sunday Jan. 26 at 11 a.m.
Students will be presented a white medical coat and a pin during the ceremony to remind them their job includes the need for caring, compassionate treatment of patients.
“It signifies entering into a healthcare profession and really looking to put humanism back into healthcare,” Sheppard said. “The importance of humanism is remembering that, under all the tubes, machinery and technology, this is a person here who we are caring for.”
The White Coat Ceremony will include a processional for the class of 2023, a welcome from President Christopher E. Hopey, a guest speaker, and a blessing of the coats by the Rev. Ray Dlugos, O.S.A., vice president of mission and ministry.
Sheppard explained with pride that yearly Gallup Polls have shown nursing to be considered the most honest and ethical professions. Nurses provide not only empathetic and life-saving care, but they take the time to converse and connect with their patients to provide patient-centered care.
Merrimack’s nursing program includes challenging academic courses but to ensure the students’ future patients never become mere numbers or statistics, there are lessons on empathy and advocacy. Sheppard also has a cohort of students in a course called “Using skillful communication to master the art of nursing.”
The Arnold P. Gold Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to infusing a human connection into healthcare through efforts such as the White Coat Ceremony. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing is a national advocate for academic nursing representing over 800 schools across the country.