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Loyola New Orleans celebrates White Coat Ceremony for nursing students

By Loyola University on Wed, 10/11/2023 - 15:27

Future nurses will help fill a critical workforce shortage in Louisiana and beyond.

Loyola University New Orleans, in partnership with Ochsner Health, held its third annual White Coat Ceremony for undergraduate nursing students on Saturday, Sept. 30, celebrating an important milestone on their journey into the healthcare profession. 

Thirty-five students were honored during the event, a tradition and rite of passage for nursing and medical students that demonstrates a commitment to compassionate care at the start of their education. 

“For years, the starched white nurse’s cap was the symbol of the profession,” said Michelle Collins, dean of the College of Nursing and Health. “The white coat has replaced the cap, but what it represents is the same: it’s a sign of the commitment nursing students make to compassionately serve those in need.” 

The group honored during the event includes five students from Loyola’s accelerated, 17-month bachelor’s program, as well as 30 students from Loyola’s traditional four-year program created in partnership with Ochsner in 2021. The full-time pre-licensure program was formed in response to the critical shortage of nurses in Louisiana and beyond. Students in the program receive in-class instruction rooted in a liberal arts Jesuit education at Loyola, followed by hands-on experience through clinical placements at Ochsner. 

“We are pleased to celebrate our continued partnership with Loyola University New Orleans through this White Coat Ceremony for our nursing students,” said Sylvia Hartmann, director of nursing academics relations at Ochsner Health. “This ceremony emphasizes the importance of compassionate, holistic patient care at the very start of our students’ nursing education.”

The first cohort of 17 students will graduate from the program in 2024 and will be eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) for registered nurses. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be 193,100 open nursing positions each year through 2033, and many of those openings will be the result of retirements. The workforce shortage is compounded across the South. 

“Loyola and Ochsner Health both have long and proud traditions of educating and mentoring new health care professionals,” Collins said. “This partnership is a joint investment in the future and well-being of the communities we are dedicated to serve, and we’re proud of the students who are answering the call. We’re dedicated to their success and helping them become skilled, compassionate nurses who can truly make a difference for their patients.”