A milestone event was celebrated in the life of St. John’s University’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program as its first cohort celebrated the Nurses Pledge Ceremony, a symbolic event that represents the students’ transition into their clinical rotations.
During this ceremony, celebrated in Marillac Hall Auditorium on November 2, students received their clinical stethoscopes and commitment pins, and recited the nursing pledge to dedicate themselves to provide compassionate, humanistic care for their patients.
The program, approved for creation in 2022 by the New York State Education Department, is housed in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. The St. Vincent Health Sciences Center on the Queens, NY, campus, slated to open in Fall 2024, will house existing and forthcoming health sciences programs, including the Nursing program, in one facility.
During her welcoming remarks, Francine Laterza, Ed.D., R.N., PNP, CNE, Director, Nursing Program, and Associate Professor/Industry Professional, Department of Clinical Health Professions, said, “Tonight we celebrate the accomplishments of the nursing students as they begin their clinical rotations on their journey to becoming registered nurses. The ceremony serves as the first symbolic step.”
She added, “We celebrate all of the students on this very special occasion and look forward to their service to our communities, while upholding the moral ethical and legal standards of the profession. We are all so very proud of you.”
In addition to the nurses’ pledge, Rev. Hugo Medellín, C.M. ’05C, University Chaplain, conducted a blessing of the hands during the invocation.
“Health care is one of the toughest—yet most fulfilling—roles,” explained keynote speaker Joanna Villamayor, D.N.P., R.N., NEA-BC, CCRN, Director of Nursing Professional Development, Academic Partnerships, NewYork–Presbyterian Queens. “There are no secret strategies. You have to care. You are here tonight because you do care.”
Dr. Villamayor added that she first learned how to connect with people as a nursing student. “Before my critical thinking skills were developed, I first honed my intentional listening skills. You take that with you, no matter where you are in your clinical or in your career path. As you enter the clinical phase, there’s always an opportunity to connect and get to know other people, not just the nursing team.”
Nursing, she explained, entails lifelong learning. “The moment you stop asking questions and assume to know everything, it’s time to consider another career option,” Dr. Villamayor stressed. “Always remember that asking questions will build your confidence and knowledge base and keep patients safe. Nurses are the last line of defense before an error—which is paramount. That’s how valuable our role is. So please be curious ask and always speak up.”
In her closing remarks, Cathleen A. Murphy, D.C., Associate Dean, Health Sciences Programs, told students they should consider their clinical rotations a semester-long job interview. “I always say that all of the tasks, no matter how big or small, that you are assigned are tests. Be a team player and be willing to assist when they need you—and try to do it with a smile and a positive attitude. Everything you say and do is a reflection of you.”
“This pledge ceremony reminds us that you always need to act in an ethical way and be firm in what you believe. When in doubt—and there will be times when you have doubts—take the high road. If you have made an ethical choice, you will never regret your decision. A patient’s best interests should be at the heart of every nurse’s decision.”
“Remember that the patients in front of you have families. They are people who are loved and love others, and whose lives may be in your hands. Let your stethoscopes remind you of their hearts and the love that fills them. Remember to be empathetic and sympathetic. Patients will be nervous and need you to comfort them. Remember your role as healers.”
Regina Cardaci, Ph.D., R.N., CNM, Associate Professor/Industry Professional, said, “As a nurse-educator for several decades, occasions such as the Pledge Ceremony reinforce my dedication to educating the future of nursing. It is so rewarding and heartening to see these students embarking on their future as a nursing professional as they proudly stand in front of faculty, deans, administrators, and their families and recite the pledge, sharing their dedication to this program and the profession of nursing.”
Student Giuliana Fusco reflected, “The Nursing Pledge Ceremony enabled us to come together with our peers and celebrate the accomplishments we have achieved thus far. I think it will be very rewarding to look back on this moment where our journey began, and see how far we have come when we graduate as registered nurses in 2026.”
“This ceremony sets the expectation for the rest of our lives as student nurses as well as practicing nurses,” observed Nursing student Katelyn Valvo. “Getting together with our cohort and reciting the pledge oath in front of our faculty, directors, and family, allows us to take pride in this monumental step of our careers—and it really starts to make everything feel real.”