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SLU School of Nursing Holds White Coat Ceremony for Class of 2025

by Bridjes O'Neil
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The Saint Louis University Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing held its White Coat Ceremony for the Class of 2025. It’s an event celebrated nationwide and viewed as a rite of passage.

“The cloaking with white coats today symbolizes a significant transition in the lives of our traditional BSN students,” said Danny Willis, DNS, dean of SLU's School of Nursing. “They join a long line of healers who have committed to serving others with honor, compassion and dignity.” 

Class of 2025 Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing students enter St. Francis Xavier College Church for their White Coat Ceremony held on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022.

Class of 2025 Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing students enter St. Francis Xavier College Church for their White Coat Ceremony held on Friday, Sept. 23, 2022. Photo by Carrie Bebermeyer.

The ceremony was held Friday, Sept. 23, at St. Francis Xavier College Church and livestreamed on YouTube.

Erin Schmidt, director of campus ministry, gave the invocation. She spoke of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, and the “rite of passage,” symbolizing his commitment to service in Christ.

“As St. Ignatius put on different clothes to mark a significant transition in his life, we will give you something new to wear,” Schmidt said. “Let us also note that an act of service marked St. Ignatius’ transition. We hope that ‘service’ accompanied with the poor and vulnerable among us continues to be at the heart of your healing ministry.”

Fr. Joseph Detwiler, associate pastor at Queen of All Saints Catholic School, delivered the keynote address sharing nurses' impact on his life.

“What would I have to say to nurses?” Fr. Detwiler asked. “I’m speaking to you as Joe Detwiler, the former occupant of Room 25 on 12 west at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.”

Fr. Detwiler planned to enter the college seminary right after high school, but all of that changed when he and his sister, Cecilia, were in a car accident on July 4, 2010. Both had critical injuries, and it was doubtful they would both survive. Fr. Detwiler sustained a severe brain injury and was unresponsive for more than two months.

“On day 74, when a priest was staying in my room praying the Liturgy of the Hours, I woke up and spoke, miraculously, six hours after my parents were told I may never talk again,” Fr. Detwiler said.

Fr. Detwiler said he was helpless and had zero control. Given all his injuries, Fr. Detwiler said he was lucky that the nurses tending to him didn’t give up immediately.

“Medicine is good, but it can’t predict everything. If that were true, I would not be here speaking to you today,” Fr. Detwiler said. “Trust your doctors but know that your patients can surprise you sometimes.”

During the ceremony, SLU faculty cloaked 118 traditional BSN student nurses at College Church. SLU School of Nursing alumna Mary Kay Macheca presented 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.

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 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.