Island University Nursing Students Earn Their White Coats, Transition From Classroom to Clinic

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – In comic books and action movies, the superhero always wears a distinctive uniform often made up of a mask, cape and secret weapon. With these tools, they are poised and ready to help those in distress. For the nursing students at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, that superhero suit consists of scrubs, a stethoscope and, most importantly, a white lab coat.

“When you put on your scrubs and that white coat, it’s a whole new feeling,” shared Destiny Pratt who received her white coat during a special ceremony hosted by the College of Nursing and Health Sciences on June 20. “It’s like you are putting on your superhero suit and you are transforming yourself. You tell yourself, ‘this is real, and I am a student nurse.’”

Pratt was one of 57 students who earned a white coat during the time-honored ceremony that is held in the Performing Arts Center every semester. During the ceremony the students receive a humanitarian pin from the Arnold P. Gold Foundation and recite an oath of service. But the moment is when each undergraduate nursing student walks across the stage and accepts their new white coat, which symbolizes their transition from the classroom to a clinical setting.

In the coming months, each student will be assigned a post at a hospital or doctor’s office throughout Corpus Christi. Twelve-hour shifts, in addition to class, are ahead of them. But for students like Pratt and Kacie Haecker, the challenge is not daunting because compassion and caring runs deep – it’s in their blood.

“I know this is cheesy, but I like to help people, and I want to help as many people as I can before I am no longer here on this earth,” said Haecker, who transferred from another nursing program to the University this summer. “I come from three generations of caretakers which means I grew up in a very compassionate family and I believe that was passed on to me.”

Caretakers, advocates and teachers are just a few of the roles Island University students step into as they take their place in the healthcare community. Serving on the medical frontlines, nurses often are the first staff to establish a relationship and develop trust with patients. A trust that means one day someone’s life will literally rest in their hands.

“Going into an environment where you are a complete stranger and having someone completely, without a shred of doubt, let you do whatever you can to help them is an amazing experience,” said Zachary Rojas, who is currently enlisted in the National Guard as a combat medic. “My scrubs and the white coat are like being in the military. It’s another uniform I get to wear that shows I am part of something bigger than myself.”