Honors College Theses

Publication Date



Anthropology (B.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (restricted to Georgia Southern)

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Jennifer Sweeney Tookes


The purpose of this research is to analyze Georgia Southern nursing students’ perceptions of their White Coat Ceremony and two prominent symbols (the white coat and stethoscope) obtained upon entry into the program. The White Coat Ceremony was founded to promote humanistic and scientific values to and welcome students to the healthcare community (The Gold Foundation, 2021). For interviewees, receiving these items was exciting and wearing them led them to feel transformed from their role as a student to a nurse. This research found that the White Coat Ceremony is a rite of passage. After the ceremony, students experience a period of liminality leading up to the completion of the nursing program. Students expressed feelings of transformation in their identities and/or roles, and a sense that they had joined a new community during and after their ceremonies. Students explained that the ceremony and its symbols are not often incorporated into the formal and informal curricula during their time in the program. Finally, students’ lasting impressions of the ceremony were positive, but seldom discussed its intended values. Students saw their White Coat Ceremony as a time to mark the beginning of a journey, celebrate their admission, and join the healthcare community.