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Nightingale Ceremony ushers in new School of Nursing class

August 20, 2018

By Greg Peters

Nightingale 2018

With the donning of their new white coats, the presentation of their academic society pins and the recitation of the KU Nursing Oath of Commitment, 126 women and men went from being a collection of college students from throughout the country to being the University of Kansas School of Nursing Class of 2020.

Friends, family, peers and faculty gathered Aug. 17 in Battenfeld Auditorium on the University of Kansas Medical Center campus to celebrate the annual Nightingale Ceremony, which serves as the traditional start of the students' nursing education at KU and marks the official beginning of the fall semester for the School of Nursing.  

"You're going to work hard, but you should have some fun along the way," Sally Maliski, Ph.D., FAAN, RN, dean of the KU School of Nursing, told the new students, who were seated in groups according to their respective academic societies. "There should be joy and fun in the way you learn and in the way you practice. Remember, it's not a competition, it's a collaboration, and when one person succeeds, we all succeed."

"It took me a few years to realize that nursing was the path I wanted to take in health care," said Lauren Campbell, an E. Jean M. Hill Society member from Burnsville, Minn., who hails from a family of nurses. "What made me choose nursing was the hands-on role that nurses take in patient care along with their roles in teaching and advocacy.

"The Nightingale Ceremony was special because it made the journey to nursing school start to feel real," she continued. "I started applying to schools almost a year ago, and it felt amazing to finally be taking my first real step into the nursing profession."

Robert Simari, M.D., executive vice chancellor of the University of Kansas Medical Center, welcomed the student nurses and their families and friends to campus, while Jerrihlyn McGee, DNP, RN, delivered the keynote address highlighting the need for baccalaureate-prepared nurses to be leaders, not only for themselves, but also for their peers and their patients. McGee encouraged the students to become disciplined in their lives, whether it is completing assignments on time or learning to balance schoolwork with other daily responsibilities.

McGee presented the students with a list of essential principles for success:

  • Find your step, what makes you excited
  • Dream big
  • Take risks
  • Prepare, plan and then take action
  • You are accountable for your success
  • Be mindful
  • Be kind
  • Be good
  • Align your core values
  • Be open to constructive feedback
  • Develop self-efficacy and a growth mindset
  • Use your voice to raise awareness

While the path to nursing school was different for each of the new students, one of the key threads binding them together is a desire to help others. Some gained motivation through family members, while others were inspired by volunteer work.

"I chose nursing because of my late grandma, Gramme," said Ezekiel Welch, a Hill Society member from Wichita. "She was the type of woman that would do anything for anyone and ask for nothing in return. Having her raise me along with my parents, who have the same values, made me adopt those values without question.

"I genuinely love helping people, and I went to help as many people as I can before my time is up. "

Tyler Booth had gone on countless medical calls as a Fire Explorer with the Chula Vista Fire Department in California, and that's how he developed his passion for helping people in need, and that is how his journey began to become a nurse.

"I felt an overwhelming sense of pride taking part in the Nightingale Ceremony and the tradition behind it," said Booth, a Pearl L. Laptad Society member. "I could not believe that all my hard work was paying off. Now, the real journey begins."

"When I put my white coat on for the first time during the Nightingale Ceremony, I was super-excited and proud of where I am today," said Gloria Diaz, a member of the Henrietta Froehlke Society from the Bronx, New York. "It took a long time for me to get to this point, so seeing myself getting my white coat lets me know I've made it far, and I'm one step closer to achieving my career."

For the second consecutive year, students from the new KU School of Nursing-Salina joined in the event. The Salina campus was added last year to address the need for more nurses in rural and underserved parts of the state, especially western Kansas. All 12 members of the Roberta Thiry Society, the society formed last year for the Salina students, made the 170- mile trek from Salina to Kansas City to take part in the ceremony.

"I felt a surge of emotions going through my body," said Damon Phouvanay, a Salina student, who grew up in Garden City in far southwest Kansas. "They included a feeling of representing Lao-Americans, an under-represented group in the profession. It also included a feeling of being rewarded for my previous studies. And lastly, the minute that white coat was donned and the final handshake was completed, there was a feeling of undeniable gratitude of having the privilege to continue studying. This strikes a note in my heart as I am a child of parents who can only imagine what a college education is composed of."

Last modified: Aug 20, 2018