Tips For Nursing Pinning Planners

The Pinning Ceremony is a wonderful time-honored nursing school tradition, dating back before the turn of the twentieth century. Some schools view the pinning ceremony as an outdated ritual and are abandoning it altogether. It is a more intimate version of the graduation special to nursing graduates; a celebration of what you and your class have accomplished during the past two-four (sometimes more) years.

Here’s what some students had to say

“I love that myself and my classmates will get special recognition apart from the other college graduates. In the graduation ceremony, there are several hundred graduates. Everyone wears the same thing so there is no distinction. I am quite excited that we get our own separate ceremony, for those of us and our families who understand what we’ve been through to get where we are.” -Kim

“I graduated from nursing school 4 years ago, and we were required to do pinning and graduation. I can tell you that the pinning was more significant to me. Not that these professions aren’t important, but graduation got lost to accountants and business type people. Pinning was about the nurses. It was all of us, who had struggled through the same thing and endured the same tortures. We would just look at each other and cry, because this is what we had all been talking about for sooooo long. And our loved ones, the people who helped get us through it and sacrificed just as much, were there with us. Our instructors pinned us. Very formal affair. It just meant so much.” -Donna

The Traditional Ceremony

The traditional ceremony starts with a processional of graduates in white uniforms. There is usually a guest speaker and one or more student speakers, including the class president or president of your local Student Nurses’ Association. Awards are given out and flowers are given to choice faculty members.

Reading of the Florence 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 devote myself to the welfare of those committed to my care.

The passing of the flame, that is lighting candles as a symbol of Florence Nightingale’s lamplight. A member of the faculty lights each candle after the graduate is pinned and welcomes the new nurse or, all graduates line up and the flame travels down the line with, each graduate lighting their neighbor’s candle welcoming them to nursing.

The New Trends

Students are wearing semi-formal attire or caps and gowns rather then the traditional white uniforms. Students are choosing who pins them instead of one faculty member pinning all. Popular choices are their child, spouse, parent, other relative, or a favorite clinical instructor. While the graduate is pinned another reads their prepared “words of thanks” and announce where they will start their career.

Including a 5-10 minute slide show reflecting on the past years in school adds a nice personal touch. Use background music or have a voiceover of students reflecting on their nursing school experience.

Reciting an updated Nursing Pledge such as:

Before God and in the presence of this assembly we promise:

  • To practice the art and science of nursing, toward increasing patients’ physical and emotional health, based on evidence and current nursing research.
  • To acknowledge the privilege to hold their lives in our care, and practice nursing, in partnership with our patients.
  • To acknowledge the privilege to comfort our dying patients, into death, with dignity.
  • To hold those entrusted to our care with respect, affirm their innate worth and hold their privacies in confidence.
  • To advocate for the health and needs of our patients, respecting their cultural and religious beliefs.
  • To act as leaders in promoting health throughout our communities.
  • To hold in esteem nursing educators, researchers, scholars and experts who have guided our path, and are welcoming us into the profession.
  • To help strengthen fellow nurses and advance the aims of our nursing profession.
  • To share our knowledge with, encourage, and welcome future nurses.

The passing of the flame is symbolic and still very popular. Lighting the candles is an elegant way to end the ceremony.

So plan your pinning and make it your own. Do what works for your class and it will be a beautiful and emotional ceremony you, your classmates, and your loved ones will never forget.