The Wearing of a Nursing Pin is Indeed a Privilege Earned by Graduates of Nursing Programs Across the Country

16th Apr 2014

The wearing of a nursing pin is indeed a privilege earned by graduates of nursing programs across the country. It symbolizes the practice of nursing and the educational preparation of those who wear it. Most schools hold pinning ceremonies to better honor their graduates.

The modern pinning ceremonies dates back to the 1860s when Florence Nightingale was proudly awarded the Red Cross of St. George in recognition of her dedicated and tireless service to those wounded during the Crimean War. In turn, to share her honor, she presented a medal of excellence to the brightest graduates from her nursing school at St. Thomas’ Hospital in London. Pinning new nursing graduates became a standard in the United States by 1916.

The pinning represents an official initiation into the brotherhood and sisterhood of nurses. Each ceremony is rich with symbolism and this right of passage can be traced as far back as the 12th century Crusades. During this period, the Knights of the Order, who worked at the Hospital of St. John the Baptist, tended to wounded Crusaders. New monks that were initiated into the Order vowed to serve the sick and wounded soldiers. Part of the initiation ceremony included the presentation of a Maltese cross. These were the first badges given to nurses.

The nursing pin cannot be considered mere jewelry or a reminder of graduation like a mortarboard or tassel. Nursing pins connect graduates to nurses who have come before and to every nurse who has ever accepted the responsibilities of this great and rewarding profession.