Back to Blog

AdventHealth University Holds First Virtual FNP White Coat Ceremony

April 20, 2020  |  Category: News


In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, the higher education landscape has undergone a staggering shift in just a short time, prompting many universities to pivot quickly to provide alternate delivery methods for learning experiences and significant events.

The AdventHealth University Online Master of Science in Nursing Program – Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) Track, requires completion of the Advanced Health Assessment course which signifies the students’ readiness and transition to their patient-focused practice immersions.  This accomplishment is traditionally marked by a White Coat Ceremony. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), the ceremony is designed to instill a commitment to providing compassionate care among the next generation of nurse practitioners. “The White Coat Ceremony is a milestone of the Nurse Practitioner profession,” stated Dr. Lynelle Callender, Vice Chair for Online Nursing. “It symbolizes professionalism, integrity, honesty, excellence, compassion, and sacrifice to unconditionally care of others.”

Since face-to-face celebrations were out of the question given the current climate and not wanting to delay this important event, leaders from the Department of Nursing, in collaboration with the AHU Online and Center for Educational Technology staff, rallied together to devise a way to hold the ceremony virtually.  “It was extremely important to the FNP Team that we didn’t miss or reschedule this opportunity to acknowledge the successful completion of the Advanced Health Assessment course and the competency of patient assessments,” Dr. Callender emphasized.

Thrilled to learn their accomplishment would still be celebrated, the FNP students were receptive and excited about the virtual ceremony.  After a few intense days of planning, rehearsal, and regular communication with the participating faculty, staff, and students about the expectations and logistics of the virtual platform, AdventHealth University was ready to hold its first Virtual White Coat Ceremony.

On April 14, 2020, through the use on an online video-streaming platform in combination with live-streaming on social media, administrators, faculty, staff, FNP students, and their loved ones gathered together in-place to celebrate this rite of passage.  In his opening remarks, University President and CEO, Dr. Edwin Hernandez, recognized the perseverance of the students during these challenging times, noting that their skills as nurses and future primary care givers would become even more valuable than before.  AHU Provost, Dr. Sandra Dunbar-Smalley echoed the sentiment, stating: “The expertise of these future nurse practitioners is especially needed for such a time as this”.  Dr. Dunbar-Smalley went on to share a quote by the author, John C. Maxwell: “Wisdom is always extracted from adversity”, to emphasize the importance of gaining new perspectives and lessons in challenging times.

Keynote speaker Dr. Deora Johnson, DNP, PMHNP, Lead Mental Health Nurse Practitioner at North West Hospital in Randallstown, MD, shared a message full of encouragement, recognizing the increased importance of practitioners establishing professionalism, caring, and trust with their patients in a time of so much uncertainty. Prompting the future FNPs to embrace the practice of wholistic healthcare, Dr. D. Johnson emphasized the magnitude of developing their skills to recognize and treat physical and mental ailments.

Prompted and individually recognized by Dr. Arlene Johnson, FNP Coordinator, one-by-one, each student appeared on camera and proudly donned their white coat.  Through the chat feature on both streaming platforms, faculty, staff, and loved ones shared congratulatory messages to the students.  The virtual ceremony concluded with a prayer of blessing for these future nurse practitioners.

“Students were grateful that the event was held virtually so their family and friends could share in the milestone of their nursing profession,” observed Dr. Callender. “It meant even more to them that friends and family who would not have been able to attend an in-person event could view the video live and in the future from the AHU Online website.”

“I think it was the perfect way to bring people together, when we couldn’t actually be together,” expressed Laurence Rasmussen, FNP student and white coat recipient. “It gave my family some positivity in a really dark time. It was great!”

The value and appreciation of healthcare providers have increased exponentially during the recent crisis. As these FNP students, also serving as registered nurses, prepare to join these elite ranks, what a privilege it was to recognize their important milestone without delay and celebrate their commitment to uncommon compassion and whole-person care.


Click HERE to view the Virtual White Coat Ceremony.