Nursing students hold ceremony in honor of start of clinical training

The junior class of UConn's School of Nursing held a ceremony to celebrate the beginning of their clinical training at Storrs Hall. (Amar Batra/The Daily Campus)

The junior class of the University of Connecticut's School of Nursing celebrated their entrance into the clinical practice portion of their training, in a ceremony held in Storrs Hall Friday morning.

“It’s a big transition.” remarked School of Nursing director and professor John McNulty. “[Students] are applying their knowledge to a clinical setting.”

Students of the School of Nursing study for two years before being allowed to work with actual patients, learning how to interact with them and their families, which is a critical part of their practice.

Clad in their new white and blue scrubs, over 100 students awaited their induction eagerly.

“The nursing school is very intense.” says fifth semester nursing student Jamie Choate. “To finally be seeing it all pay off… it’s a really proud moment.”

Nursing is considered one of the most demanding and high-paced professions in the modern world. Despite the upcoming challenges, many students were inspired by the nurses in their lives.

“My mom had cancer, and I spent a lot of time in hospitals when I was in high school,” says Choate. “I saw how nurses made a difference in people’s lives… I wanted to do the same.”

“You need to see your patients as people, not clients,” comments nursing student Tanya Altrui.

The ceremony opened with remarks from McNulty and School of Nursing Dean E. Carol Polifroni, who encouraged students to use their resourcefulness and leadership skills as they continued into their profession.   

“You’re no longer just a UConn student.” Polifroni told students in her speech. “You’re something more in your uniform. It is our expectation that you will become the nursing leaders of the future.”

The Class of 2018 then proceeded to the stage, each student receiving a folio with a pledge promising to uphold the standards of the UConn School of Nursing through their clinicals and their careers.

After a brief introduction and speech from Class of 2017 students Maura Kenny and Jennifer Kline, who completed the Susan B. Flynn Oncology Internship over the summer, the nursing students stated their pledge to follow the philosophy and ideals of the School of Nursing.

The ceremony then closed with the Dedication of The Hands. Faculty and Staff placed a drop of lavender essence on each student’s hands. Each future nurse then held hands with their classmates and dedicated themselves to the practice of nursing.

The lavender itself holds a symbolic value, as clinical professor Donna Bys describes.

“Lavender is soothing.” says Bys. “Which is what our hands do when we help patients.”

Photos of each clinical group were then taken, with refreshments following the ceremony. The students began their clinical orientation later that day.

During clinicals, students will work with several healthcare facilities in the area of Storrs, including daycare centers, hospitals and nursing homes.

Though the subjects may be varied, McNulty emphasizes the one universal principle in all disciplines of nursing: empathy and kindness.     

“Patients don’t care how much you know,” McNulty says, “Until they know how much you care.”


Marlese Lessing is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu.