KOKOMO, Ind. — Eight students in the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) program at Indiana University Kokomo received the white coats that signify a new role in the healthcare field in a ceremony in Kresge Auditorium.
During the program, faculty, alumni, and the students themselves reflected on the meaning of the white coat, and on the new chapter in their nursing careers.
FNP alumnus Jacob Barnes welcomed them to the clinical portion of the program, saying the white coat ceremony is pivotal to defining their professional mindset as they cross from the nursing role to the provider role.
“The coat may just look like a big white piece of fabric with some stitching and a logo, but what you do over the next several semesters will give that coat much deeper meaning,” he said. “This won’t be an easy process, trust me, I’ve been there. But what I do know is that it will be worth every single ounce of effort you give. Everything you put toward this will be worth it.”
Dea Kent, director of the FNP program, compared the white coat to a caterpillar’s chrysalis, which protects it as it becomes something entirely different, and transforms into a butterfly.
“The changes these students will undergo in the next 15 months are immense,” she said. “There will be highs and lows, and good days and stress-filled days, but they are nestled in the white coat, where they have foundationally what they need, and where we cannot see everything. They are slowly changing and slowly evolving.
“You entered this program as a nurse,” she continued. “Tonight, you will be bestowed with the outward signal that you are actively committed to the process and the education that is needed to change from nurse to FNP. And when you emerge in May 2024, I can guarantee you will be utterly transformed.”
As each student stepped forward to receive her white coat from faculty, she shared a few words about what the ceremony and coat means to her.
“This ceremony symbolizes a moment for me of furthering my career and expanding my knowledge and opportunities as a healthcare provider,” said Rebecca Hollman. “I hope my education journey teaches my children to always follow their dreams.”
Monique Iverson said she knows the program will be hard, but also exciting and fun.
“This coat gives me permission to take the next step on my journey,” she said.
FNPs are registered nurses who have completed specialized advanced graduate education, passed national board examinations, and are licensed to manage a broad range of health problems. They do physical exams, order and interpret results from blood tests and X-rays, diagnose and treat illnesses, and write prescriptions. They use a patient- and family-centered approach to healthcare, and emphasize health promotion, disease prevention, patient education, symptom control, and care coordination.
IU Kokomo’s FNP program began in January 2017, funded by a grant from Community Howard Regional Health. A unique feature of the program is that it provides clinical practicum placements with area healthcare systems and medical practitioners for its students to complete their required 600 hours, rather than requiring them to find their own.
Members of the class, listed by hometown, include: