Winona State University hosted the inaugural Professional Oath of Honor Ceremony for Winona and Rochester nursing students Jan. 27 on the WSU main campus.

According to Martha Scheckel, chairperson and nursing professor at WSU, the ceremony is a rite of passage into the students’ healthcare practice, which values humanism and compassionate care combined with scientific excellence. During the ceremony, students recited the WSU Nursing Department’s new professional oath of honor to emphasize that nursing is a profession, a calling, and not just a job.

“It was an honor to host this inaugural ceremony at WSU. Students, faculty, and attendees overwhelmingly appreciated the meaning of this event,” said Scheckel.

Currently, about 150 students graduate from WSU each year with a bachelor of science in nursing, and their job placement rates are approximately 96 percent, Scheckel said. The white coat ceremony serves to reinforce the tradition of excellence established in the WSU nursing program.

WSU is one of 50 nursing schools nationwide awarded a grant to host a white coat ceremony. Funding for the ceremonies was provided by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation (APGF) in collaboration with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).

Launched in 2013, the collaboration between APGF and AACN promotes humanistic, patient-centered care among future generations of registered nurses. Although white coat ceremonies have been a part of medical school tradition for more than 20 years, the APFG-AACN initiative marks the first coordinated effort to offer similar events at schools of nursing. Nursing students join the growing number of health professionals that offer “cloaking” ceremonies, including disciplines such as dentistry, pharmacy, physical therapy, and physical assistants.

For more information, contact Martha Scheckel at