Beyond Graduation, the Nurses Pinning Ceremony: Its History and Significance

NursingJuly 01, 2021

After completing their nursing education, in addition to a graduation ceremony, students are usually invited to a pinning ceremony. This time-honored tradition is different from the formal graduation, and many nurses say it’s even more meaningful. The pinning ceremony signifies that you have joined the sisterhood and brotherhood of nurses and are ready to serve society as a healthcare professional.  Nursing has often been referred to as a “calling” and the modern pinning ceremony is based on the history of this respected profession.  
The history of the pinning ceremony dates back to the 12th century when the Crusaders were cared for by the Knights of the Order of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist. When new monks entered the order, they vowed to serve the sick soldiers in a ceremony during which each monk was given a Maltese cross badge.  
The modern ceremony started in the 1860s, when Queen Victoria awarded Florence Nightingale the Red Cross of St. George to recognize her service as a military nurse during the Crimean War. To share the honor, Nightingale later presented medals of excellence to her brightest nursing students. Not surprisingly, Florence Nightingale is known as the founder of modern nursing.  
In 1916, the pinning ceremony became standard practice for new graduates in the United States as a way of welcoming them into the nursing profession. While it was once only given to outstanding students, today it includes all students who successfully complete their nursing education.  
New nurses can invite their family and friends to attend the ceremony, during which they’re given their nursing pin. The pin is usually given by a faculty member from their nursing school or someone of special significance to the new nurse. In fact, many new nurses choose to dedicate their pins to this special person, and, in such a case, a dedication the student has written about the relationship may be read. 
Ceremonies often include a candle- or lamp-lighting to symbolize the nighttime care Nightingale gave to wounded soldiers by candlelight. Graduates also recite the Nightingale Pledge: 
I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly, to pass my life in purity and to practice my profession faithfully. I will abstain from whatever is deleterious and mischievous and will not take or knowingly administer any harmful drug. I will do all in my power to maintain and elevate the standard of my profession, and will hold in confidence all personal matters committed to my keeping, and all family affairs coming to my knowledge in the practice of my calling. With loyalty will I endeavor to aid the physician in his work, and as a 'missioner of health' I will dedicate myself to devoted service to human welfare.  
The pinning ceremony is a special way to recognize the hard work it takes to complete your nursing education. If you’re just starting out and are considering getting into the field, Fortis can help. Click here for more information or call us today at (855) 436-7847 and speak to one of our career counselors. 

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