New white coats and a new name: Introducing the Rita & Larry Salva School of Nursing & Health Professions

New white coats and a new name: Introducing the Rita & Larry Salva School of Nursing & Health Professions

Fifty-three students celebrated their White Coat Ceremony on September 7.

Fifty-three students pursuing their Master of Science in Nursing degrees became part of history at this year's White Coat Ceremony, which revealed the new name of their school in honor of a monumental gift.

On September 7, the students and their guests assembled in Pfleeger Concert Hall for the annual White Coat Ceremony. The event marks the beginning of clinical rotations for the students who will be completing their degrees with 270 hours of training at hospitals and other area health care facilities over the next three semesters.

In his remarks, Rowan University President Ali Houshmand said the students were paving the way for future health care professionals at the school. He said their white coats would be a symbol of the trust Rowan has placed in them as future healers and caregivers.

Houshmand then said the evening would be “momentous” for both the students and their school. 

“For more than two decades, Larry Salva and his wife, Rita Salva, have been among Rowan University’s most generous benefactors,” Dr. Houshmand said. “Tonight, in recognition for all that Rita and Larry have done, and continue to do, for Rowan University and its students, I am honored to announce that the Rowan University Board of Trustees has approved the renaming of your school as the Rita & Larry Salva School of Nursing & Health Professions.

Those words were followed by a standing ovation from the audience as the Salvas approached the stage and a large image of the new school logo appeared on the video screen above them. Houshmand presented them with a framed white coat from the school, complete with a shoulder patch emblazoned with the new school logo.

A 1977 alumnus and current member of the Board of Trustees member, Larry warmly addressed the audience.  

“Rita and I are honored to have a school at Rowan University bearing our names, especially a school that educates health care professionals in the compassionate care of others,” Larry Salva said in his address to the students. “As Rita and I are both first-generation college students and college graduates, we are particularly mindful of the cost of higher education. So, we wanted to help those who might not otherwise pursue a career in health care due to their inability to handle the financial burden.”

The Salvas' gift will also help support the nursing program's challenging curriculum and maintain its high standards as it grows. 

Following the announcement, all 53 students were called individually to the stage to receive the white lab coat they will wear throughout their clinical training, with each coat bearing their name, along with the school’s new name and its logo.

The Rita & Larry Salva School of Nursing & Health Professions is one of three schools within the Virtua Health College of Medicine & Life Sciences of Rowan University. Along with the Rowan-Virtua School Osteopathic Medicine and Rowan-Virtua School of Translational Biomedical Engineering & Sciences, the Salva School is part of the landmark academic health care partnership focused on excellence, inclusivity and empowerment. 

The tradition of the White Coat Ceremony was begun by the Arnold P. Gold Foundation in 1993 at Columbia University. With its emphasis on the role of humanism in medicine, the ceremony reminds students of the importance of compassion, caring and integrity when interacting with patients. Although traditionally observed at medical schools, the ceremony has since spread to other health professions. In 2014, the Gold Foundation partnered with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing to pilot White Coat ceremonies at nursing schools.