Skip to main content
Menu Search & Directory

School of Nursing Holds White Coat Ceremony for Class of 2023

by Bridjes O'Neil on 08/24/2021
Media Inquiries

Bridjes O'Neil
Communications Specialist

Reserved for members of the media.

Saint Louis University Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing held its White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2023. Though not new in the health professions, the ceremony is relatively new to nursing and is viewed as a rite of passage. 

Danny Willis, DNS, dean of the Valentine School of Nursing, said the day marks an important milestone for students as they progress in their health professions education toward becoming baccalaureate-prepared nurses. 

The ceremony was held Monday, Aug. 23, at St. Francis Xavier College Church and livestreamed on Youtube.


SLU's Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing held its White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2023 on Monday, Aug. 23,  at St. Francis Xavier College Church. Students celebrate their achievement at a reception. Photo by  Kyle Kabance.


David Suwalsky, S.J., Ph.D., vice president for mission and identity, gave the invocation expressing gratitude for an opportunity to gather and celebrate the momentous occasion.

“It is good to come together so that we might encourage and support one another and embrace the challenges that our studies will set before us,” Suwalsky said. “Help us seek to do good to one another and all.”

Rita Fowler, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, where many SLU students will complete their nursing clinical training, delivered the keynote address.

Fowler said she takes pride in being a nurse. She then glanced out at the audience from the podium and said, “It warms my heart to know that we have so many people who are interested in joining the nursing profession.”

With nearly 40 years of experience, she spoke of the rewards and attributes of those who choose to work in the field. Nurses are life-long learners, advocates for their patients, and witnesses to their life-changing moments. 

“We are the ones at the bedside from birth to death. We see patients at their highest and lowest moments,” she said. “Nurses should never underestimate the power of compassion and trust. Patients may not remember our names, but they will always remember how we made them feel.” 

The opportunities for nurses are endless and Fowler encouraged the students to explore them all. 

From 2016-2026, the federal government projects that more than 200,000 new registered nurse positions will be created each year. Employment of registered nurses is projected to grow 15%, much faster than the average for all occupations. Nursing is the nation's largest health care profession, with more than 3.8 million registered nurses  nationwide, said Fowler citing American Association of Colleges of Nursing data

“Soon, you will take your place as members of the most trusted profession,” Fowler added. 

A SLU School of Nursing student is cloaked during a White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2023 at St. Francis Xavier College Church. Photo by Kyle Kabance.

During the ceremony, SLU faculty cloaked 165 traditional BSN student nurses. After a photo with the school’s dean, alumna Kevyn Schroeder (VSN ‘75, GRAD PH ‘83) adorned the students with pins provided by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation, a nonprofit organization that champions humanism in health care.

Next, in unison with faculty and staff, the students recited the health profession’s covenant affirming their commitment to serve with honor, compassion, and dignity.

“We’re privileged to recognize you as you take that next pivotal step in your nursing education in clinical and experiential learning,” Willis said. “May you live out your roles as nurses with integrity, passion, and courage.”

Valentine School of Nursing White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2023 held Monday, Aug. 23, at St. Francis Xavier College Church. 

About Arnold P. Gold Foundation

The Arnold P. Gold Foundation is a nonprofit organization that champions humanism in healthcare, which we define as compassionate, collaborative, and scientifically excellent care. Founded in 1988, the Gold Foundation strengthens humanism through setting standards with rituals and recognition, sparking action through tools and events, and building communities, such as the Gold Humanism Honor Society, to support and activate advocates of compassionate care. 

About Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing

Founded in 1928, the Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing at Saint Louis University has achieved a national reputation for its innovative and pioneering programs. Offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral nursing programs, its faculty members are nationally recognized for their teaching, research, and clinical expertise.