Students enrolled in the Entry Level Master of Science in Nursing program at Charles Drew University, wearing their white coats. Seated (L-R): Founding Dean Dr. Gloria J. McNeal; Dr. Mervyn M. Dymally, whom the School of Nursing was named for; and Dr. Pamela Shiao, associate dean.
LOS ANGELES - The Mervyn M. Dymally School of Nursing at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science held a ceremony for its inaugural class of nursing students, presenting them with a white lab coat.
Gathered in the courtyard of the Life Sciences Research and Nursing Education building, a brand-new campus structure, the students, with their loved ones watching, waited patiently to take the next step forward in their graduate nursing education.
"Today, you're starting a new path together with your colleagues and classmates," Dr. Gloria J. McNeal, founding dean, School of Nursing said. "It is an understatement to say it's an exciting time to be a nurse. Your experiences as a student nurse, together with many external forces, will shape the type of practitioner you ultimately become."
One by one, the first-year students in the graduate-level program were called by name to receive their white coats, a symbol of their responsibility to patient care and clinical service.
Cloaked in embroidered white coats, the students pursuing an Entry Level master’s degree, as well as a larger number of those striving to become Family Nursing Practitioners stood up. They recited in unison a pledge of professionalism named after Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing.
"These students started their journey in graduate nursing school as white-coat angels, just as Florence Nightingale herself and her nurses were called white-dress angels," said S. Pamela Shiao associate dean, School of Nursing. She added that the ceremony shows the student's commitment to follow Nightingale's legacy, as well as to reduce health disparities and to serve the diverse needs of underserved communities."
Among those in attendance was Mervyn M. Dymally, who served more than 40 years as a state legislator, including a term as lieutenant governor in the mid-1970s, and in the U.S. House of Representatives. Dymally, whom the School of Nursing was named for, heads the university's Urban Health Institute.
The students entering the Dymally School of Nursing previously earned a baccalaureate degree, or a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing. Dr. McNeal encouraged students to broaden their perspective, and to develop greater empathy for patients.
"Place yourselves in as many different environments for patient care as possible. Experience the many ways to provide nursing care management," Dr. McNeal said. She added: "I know the exciting class work is just beginning and new experiences await you. You'll have challenges, but I guarantee the ride is worth it."