Skip to main content Skip to footer

September 29, 2023

SVSU advanced-degree nursing students don white coats in iconic ceremony

Event marks commencement of clinical training

group of people in white coats standing with a few others

Saginaw Valley State University recently celebrated the advancement of nurses taking their final steps to becoming primary care family nurse practitioners. On August 28, 27 SVSU Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) students received white coats and recited the white coat pledge, signifying their advancement into clinical work. The white coat ceremony reaffirms the science and healthcare community’s support of the educational process that prepares future health providers for practice. 

“These advanced practice nurses have taken steps to further their educations to fill crucial health care roles in the communities where they live and work,” said Averetta Lewis, SVSU professor of nursing and coordinator of the FNP program. “By pursuing their master’s degree, doctorate degree or post-graduate certificate in the FNP program, they are demonstrating their commitment to providing excellent patient care throughout Michigan.”

The FNP students live and work in communities throughout Michigan. SVSU’s hybrid program, combining online courses with less-frequent face-to-face classes, enables them to pursue their advanced degree while maintaining their commitments to work and family.

The White Coat Ceremony was initiated in 1993 at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons by Arnold P. Gold, M.D., who was a professor and pediatric neurologist. Dr. Gold, a passionate advocate for humanistic healthcare, believed that the oath taken by new physicians at the end of medical school came too late. Through the nonprofit organization that he and his wife, Dr. Sandra Gold, started, the Arnold P. Gold Foundation has expanded the White Coat Ceremony around the globe.

In 2014, recognizing the vital role nurses play in the healthcare team, the Gold Foundation partnered with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to adopt a White Coat Ceremony for Nursing. More than 360 schools of nursing now participate and the number continues to grow.

Twenty-six of the 27 students in SVSU’s Primary Care Family Nurse Practitioner Program are pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing. They are listed below with their city of residence:

  1. Trisha Ameel, Sandusky
  2. Jane Ballard, Cass City
  3. Grace Barrientes, Saginaw
  4. Andrea Boehm, Bridgeport
  5. Caitlyn Crouse, Freeland
  6. Alycia Dzierwa, Williamsburg
  7. Courney Graves, New Hudson
  8. Leana Hall, Mio
  9. Ashley Hawthorne, Caseville
  10. Emily Hotchkiss, Birch Run
  11. Glenda Lambert, Saginaw
  12. Sadie Milbrath, Walker
  13. Bilye Morrow, Midland
  14. Kelsey Nelson, Munger
  15. Megan Ohmer, Highland
  16. Kotryna Paalksnyte, Rockford
  17. Katie Powell, Rosebush
  18. Lauren Quinnell, Freeland
  19. Corby Reif, Saginaw
  20. Brittny Schwab, Bay City
  21. Maria Shemit, Sterling
  22. Karensa Stein, Freeland
  23. Kaitlyn Tolonen, Highland
  24. Rachel Webb, Holly
  25. Mckenzie Wilkinson, Bay City
  26. Kersten Wood, Brown City

Brenna Spencer-Castanon, of Grayling, is earning a post-graduate certificate.

Saginaw Valley State University’s family nurse practitioner program was developed by Sachiko Claus, who taught at SVSU for 29 years. Claus served as the lead faculty for the FNP program between 1995 and 2009. She passed away in August of this year.

SVSU has long been respected for its Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, and the university brings the same caliber of instruction to its graduate programs. SVSU’s Master of Science in Nursing program is the most affordable master’s program in Michigan and is also the state’s only family nurse practitioner program with a rural health focus. In addition to the MSN and certificate programs, SVSU offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, designed for nurses who work full-time, which can be completed in as little as three years.