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KU School of Nursing Class of 2021 dons white coats at Nightingale Ceremony

August 28, 2019

By Kristi Birch

Nursing student receiving white coat at KU Nightingale ceremony
Photo: Elissa Monroe, KU Medical Center.

At a ceremony held Aug. 23 in the Ad Astra room of the Health Education Building at the University of Kansas Medical Center, the KU School of Nursing class of 2021 officially began their journey into the nursing profession.

The students participated in the Nightingale ceremony, during which they each received their white clinical coats and Gold Humanism pins and were inducted into one of three academic societies named after influential nursing leaders. They also, as a group, recited the KU Oath of Commitment. Family and friends of the students were able to watch the ceremony via live-stream.

"You have chosen to enter the profession of nursing, a profession that will offer limitless possibilities for you to grow and to make a difference in individual lives, families, communities and beyond," said Sally Maliski, Ph.D., FAAN, RN, and dean of the KU School of Nursing. "Today's ceremony, as you don the white coat, marks your commitment to the profession of nursing. It is a commitment to be taken seriously, as you will be joining the most trusted of all professions and the largest segment of professionals providing health care in this country," she told the new students, who were seated in groups according to their respective academic societies.

The KU School of Nursing class of 2020 comprises 131 students who have completed two years of college and who enter the school as juniors. They will earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The 18 students from the Salina campus of the KU School of Nursing, the third class from that campus which was established in 2017, also made the trip to participate in the ceremony.

While their path to nursing varies for each student, what many have in common is an interest in health care as a discipline combined with a desire to help patients directly. Some have known a nurse who made a lasting impression on them.

Ryan Washington, a nursing student from Cotton Valley, Louisiana, and an active-duty soldier in the United States Army, said he became interested in health care while assisting ophthalmologists in the army. He also remembered how the nurses took care of his father in hospice care. "I like nursing because of the wide variety I can do," he said. "I can be in the ER, help deliver babies, assist in surgeries or be a flight nurse. I wanted to do more than I was doing, and nursing is going to give me that opportunity."

Rachel Rapp, a nursing student from Valmeyer, Illinois, who completed her pre-nursing studies at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, said that she originally was interested in psychology, but then changed her mind. "Psychology wasn't enough science for me," she said. "Plus I feel like nurses make such an impact because they have so much interaction with patients."

Robert Klein, Ph.D., vice chancellor of academic and student affairs at the University of Kansas Medical Center, told the students a personal story about his mother, who, during a long stay at The University of Kansas Hospital was treated by a nurse named Mary. In addition to providing clinical care, Mary talked to Klein's mother about her experiences growing up during the Depression and long career as a teacher in the New York City schools. Mary even convinced Klein's mother to have him bring in a stash of letters she'd received from grateful students and parents over the years so that they could re-read them together.

Toward the end of his mother's life at a long-term nursing facility, Klein once walked in to find her calling for Mary, her KU nurse and friend. "That's the kind of impact that a nurse can have on a patient and their family," said Klein.

Last modified: Aug 28, 2019