NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Norwich University’s School of Nursing will host its third White Coat Ceremony, a rite of passage to emphasize the importance of compassionate patient care at the very start of training, at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 10. 

The White Coat Ceremony impresses upon the students of the great privilege they will have as nurses to be with patients during some of the most important times in life — from birth through end of life.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s ceremony will be virtual. The event is open to the public. Register here:

During the ceremony, 72 students beginning their clinical courses will recite an oath with a commitment to humanistic — compassionate, collaborative, and scientifically excellent — patient care. Students will then come forward during the ceremony to be “cloaked” by their friends or family members in the iconic white coat that signifies their status as health care professionals. 

A national keynote speech, organized by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and The Arnold P. Gold Foundation, will be delivered by Lauren Underwood, a registered nurse and U.S. congresswoman representing Illinois’ 14th District.

“In 2020, the ‘International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife,’ there is a growing and critical need for nurses as we face a shortage across our country and around the globe,” School of Nursing Director Dr. Paulette Thabault said. “Lives depend on their compassion, critical thinking, and excellence to take us through this pandemic and into a healthier future.”

A national keynote speech, organized by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and The Arnold P. Gold Foundation, will be delivered by Lauren Underwood, a registered nurse and U.S. congresswoman representing Illinois’ 14th District.  She has served as a senior adviser at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and taught future nurse practitioners through Georgetown University’s online master’s program. 

The first White Coat Ceremony took place in 1993 at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons. At the time, Dr. Arnold Gold, The Arnold P. Gold Foundation’s co-founder, was also a professor of clinical neurology and professor of clinical pediatrics at the school. Dr. Gold, a passionate advocate for humanistic health care, believed that the oath taken by new physicians at the end of medical school came too late. Through the nonprofit organization dedicated to humanistic health care that he and his wife, Dr. Sandra Gold, started, The Arnold P. Gold Foundation has expanded the White Coat Ceremony around the globe. 

Today, hundreds of nursing schools, nearly every medical school in the United States, and many other health profession schools around the globe participate in this tradition of humanistic care.

“Since 1993, The White Coat Ceremony has been an early and essential touchpoint of humanism on the path of a health care professional Gold Foundation President and CEO Dr. Richard I. Levin said. “Today, as we are facing the dual pandemics of COVID-19 and racism, the White Coat Ceremony is all the more relevant in emphasizing the importance of the human connection in health care. 

“We are grateful for the leadership of Norwich University in elevating the message, both during the ceremony and throughout the years of education, that empathy and respect are critical parts of optimal care,” Levin added.

The Gold Foundation champions the human connection in health care. The foundation engages schools and their students, health systems, companies and clinicians in the joy and meaning of humanistic health care, so patients and their families can be partners in collaborative, compassionate and scientifically excellent care. 

For more information about the White Coat Ceremony and the Gold Foundation, visit

Norwich University’s School of Nursing helps meet a critical demand for nurses with vision, innovation, and educational excellence. Its mission is to prepare students to be globally minded nurse leaders and scholars through innovative and diverse experiential education and research.

About Norwich University
Norwich University is a diversified academic institution that educates traditional-age students and adults in a Corps of Cadets and as civilians. Norwich offers a broad selection of traditional and distance-learning programs culminating in baccalaureate and graduate degrees. Norwich University was founded in 1819 by U.S. Army Capt. Alden Partridge and is the oldest private military college in the United States. Norwich is one of our nation's six senior military colleges and the birthplace of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC).

Media contact:
Daphne Larkin
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Follow us on Twitter @norwichnews

Upcoming Featured Events

Norwich University admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.

Norwich University collects personal data about visitors to our website in order to improve the user experience and provide visitors with personalized information about our programs and services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you accept the information policies and practices outlined in our Privacy Policy.