School of Nursing to celebrate largest first-year class in decades with White Coat Ceremony

Maine will be one step closer to closing the gap in its health care workforce when 118 University of Maine School of Nursing students take an oath of compassionate care at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 19.

By 2022, there is an expected shortage of 3,300 nurses in Maine, and 100,000 nationwide. To address this growing need, UMaine lifted its undergraduate enrollment cap from 85 undergraduate students to 115 in 2017. The 2018 incoming class marks the largest in the School of Nursing’s recent history.

To mark the beginning of their education, nearly 300 parents, teachers, alumni and students will gather at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bangor for the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and American Association of Colleges of Nursing White Coat Ceremony.

During the ceremony, the students will also receive a white nursing coat and lapel pin that reads, “Keeping Healthcare Human,” says Mary Walker, director of the School of Nursing.

“The tenor of the gift is directed toward emphasizing that science is informed by compassionate care. These pins serve as a visual reminder to students that, in order to deliver the best care to their patients, compassion and empathy must be the hallmarks of their clinical practice,” Walker says.

Only 50 programs are competitively selected to receive the Gold Foundation funding each year.

Ann Sassong, a professor emerita from UMaine’s School of Nursing, will address the class as the evening’s keynote speaker. Monique LaRocque, associate provost for UMaine’s Division of Lifelong Learning; Fred Servello, dean of the UMaine College of Natural Sciences, Forestry, and Agriculture; and Walker also will speak during the event.