First class at the School of Nursing at Touro receives white coats

Friends and families of students at the School of Nursing at Touro University California in Vallejo gathered Wednesday afternoon to witness their white coat ceremony.

On the stage at Landers Hall, nursing students were helped into their white coats by Touro faculty. The ceremony itself is important to the students and faculty, but in this case, it’s also an important milestone for the school: Those at the coating are the inaugural class for the School of Nursing.

Although the class is filled with working nurses, many of whom hold full-time jobs while taking classes with Touro, all are taking the 18-month program to earn their Master of Science in Nursing degree. A large number of students have an associate degree in nursing and in order to keep up with local hospitals asking incoming nurses to have a bachelor’s degree, many are returning to school.

Chelestina Patzer is one such student, holding a full-time job at NorthBay Medical Center, while also taking classes with Touro.

“I wanted to be a leader,” Patzer said about the reason she wanted to continue her education. “I have an associate degree and wanted to continue on for my master’s to help educate others.”

Touro’s nursing school is unique to the area and was developed with the idea to meet the nurse staffing requirements of local hospitals and get more students into leadership roles at hospitals.

“There are a number of nursing programs in the Bay Area, but we wanted to start with something we felt that was very important, locally, in Solano County,” Dr. Marilyn Hopkins, Provost and Chief Operating Officer of Touro, said.

“A lot of hospitals, particularly in our area, require clinical nurse leader certification, particularly anyone who’s into leadership and management roles at their organizations,” Hopkins added.

While the white coat ceremony in other areas of medicine usually symbolize the move to working with patients, this group of working nurses experienced the ceremony as a symbol of their transition to a new type of nursing role.

“(The ceremony) really symbolizes their transformation into the role of clinical nurse leader,” Dr. Ann Stoltz, Director of the School of Nursing, said. “They’re already nurses. So it really signifies them changing their role and transforming themselves.”

Stoltz was particularly proud of this class, having worked to set up the program at Touro and meeting each of the 32 students in this class.

“It’s been really fun because each of these students I’ve recruited individually,” Stoltz said. “So I’ve met with all of them before they ever really started, I know their history, where they work, and their families, many of them.

“It’s really a joy to see them come this far, get through their first semester and then tackle the next year.”

Contact Dianne de Guzman at 707-553-6833. 

Nursing White Coat

MIKE JORY — VALLEJO TIMES-HERALD Michelle Orton, left, and Danielle Manno share a copy of the Florence Nightengale Pledge at the culmination of the Touro University California White Coat Ceremony for the 32 members of its inaugural class in the School of Nursing.

 White Coat

North Bay Medical Center’s Beth Gladney, left, helps Touro University California nursing student Evelyn Prakash with her coat during Wednesday evening’s White Coat Ceremony in the Lander Hall auditorium for the school’s inaugural School of Nursing class. MIKE JORY — VALLEJO TIMES-HERALD