by Norm Miller
CLEVELAND, Ga., (TMCNews) – Truett-McConnell College acknowledged 33 students entering its new B.S.N. degree program during a ceremony that officially donned each with a nurse's coat.
About 75 others attended the Sept. 10 rite of passage, including school officials Dr. Emir Caner, president, and Vice President for Academic Services Dr. Brad Reynolds.
Nursing student Devin Adams read, Colossians 3.12: "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."
"By choosing Truett-McConnell as our nursing school, we are prepared to embody the meaning of this verse every day," Adams said.
After the ceremony, Adams told TMCNews: "Truett-McConnell is an amazing school, where I can get the education needed to become a nurse and can grow spiritually in ways that would not be possible at other schools. I chose this nursing program because it not only touched on the professional requirements for a nurse, but also for the impact we nurses can have on a patient spiritually. "
Student Michele Weaver said, "I was humbled and overwhelmed by the outpouring of pride and support from the faculty and staff of TMC, as well as the families and friends who attended. The outpouring of love has intensified my need to pursue nursing to serve for the glory of God."
"I was attending a local university and was on the waiting list for the upcoming A.S.N. program when I heard of the B.S.N. program at TMC," Weaver continued. "I contacted the Nursing Department, and the rest is history. I truly feel that I did not choose Truett-McConnell, but that God chose it for me. For this I will always be thankful."
Dr. Caner prayed at the ceremony, saying of the students: "Lord, we are grateful you are pouring into them, so they can pour into others. Lord, help us to realize that Heaven and Earth meet many times when those who serve you reach out to serve others."
"I'm not quite sure there is a another profession that shows servanthood any greater than nursing," Caner told the crowd.
Citing "difficult tasks in difficult situations for people in great need," Caner told the students they are "mediators to serve them and to show Christ to them, to love them. There is no higher honor than to do that."
"These students stand apart from the typical college student," said Deborah Alvater, assistant professor of nursing.
"They are individuals with diverse backgrounds and an abundance of life stories that powerfully reveal the spiritual quality of nursing," she said. "They view their nursing careers as a sacred ministry, and they articulate a higher purpose for their lives because they are transformed by the sacredness of their calling. "
Alvater said the nurse's coat "conveys a powerful message that engenders trust in the competencies and intentions of those who wear it. It stands for practicing nursing with a sense of duty, treating the sick with compassion, and selflessly serving the needs of patients."
The students recited in unison the original, 1893 version of the "Nightingale Pledge," which honors Florence Nightingale, and is a modified version of the Hippocratic oath.
I solemnly pledge myself before God and presence of this assembly;
To pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully.
I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous
and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug.
I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard
of my profession and will hold in confidence all personal matters
committed to my keeping and family affairs coming to my
knowledge in the practice of my calling.
With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work,
and devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.
Lisa LaPree, assistant professor of nursing, and Alvater called the students by name and presented their coats and stethoscopes in a rite punctuated by smiles, hugs, tears and applause.
Dr. Reynolds read, 1 Timothy 6.11: "But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness."
"When you're in tough situations ... choose to do the right thing," said Reynolds, who closed the ceremony with prayer.
"The coating ceremony truly changed my life by sending me off into the mission field God has set before me," student Katelyn Turner told TMCNews. God anointed me with a calling of nursing because nursing chose me. Truett-McConnell has made it possible to treat my profession as my mission field. This school has a God-filled atmosphere, where I can learn about my nursing future spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically."
The next day, students visited local hospitals and began clinical training.
"As we walked through the doors of the emergency department, the students probably experienced an anxious moment," Alvater said. "But each of us recognized that this day was bathed in prayer, and God abundantly blessed that day. The students listened to their patients with caring, compassionate hearts. Patients frequently commented on the students' ID badges that bear the Truett-McConnell cross, and that led to discussions of the college and the students' view of nursing as a sacred ministry."
Regarding his first day of clinical training, Dallas Garrison – who is one of two men in the program -- said, "Everything has led to this, and it didn't let me down. After today, there is no doubt in my mind that this is what God has called me to do. I have been so blessed to have this opportunity."
Kristen Loy said, "I want to be a nurse! When I become an RN, I want to make an effort to be personally involved in my patient's day-to-day care. I want them to know that I care about them on an intimate level".
Katelyn Turner added: "I love nursing. This experience was wonderful. Today was so real. I really enjoyed today; it is a sure God thing. I am called."
Alvater concluded that the 2013 class of nursing students will "help fulfill our goal to prepare competent professionals, who will provide compassionate care based on a Christian worldview, and who will integrate their Christian faith and values with compassionate care to fulfill the ministry of the Great Commission as prescribed by Jesus Christ."