THE PINNING CEREMONY
Dr. Susan Opas, a professor at UCLA's School of Nursing in Los Angeles, provides a rich historical report of the nursing pin and the pinning ceremony in an article from December 1999 RN magazine. Dr. Opas reports that the earliest badges given to those who tended the sick were presented to members of the Knights of the Order of the Hospital of St. John the Baptist, a religious order who tended to the ill and wounded Crusaders in the 12th Century.
The tradition of the nursing pin and the ceremonial pinning we know today, actually originated in the 1860's at the Nightingale School of Nursing at St. Thomas Hospital in London. Having been recently awarded The Red Cross of St. George for her selfless service to the injured and dying in the Crimean War, Florence chose to extend this honor to her most outstanding graduate nurses by presenting each of them with a medal for excellence.
The Wolverton Royal Hospital in England initiated the tradition of presenting all graduates with a badge. The first pin was presented to the graduating class of 1880 at the Bellevue Hospital of Nursing in New York City. The pin presented to graduates was both beautiful and symbolic. It featured a crane in the center for vigilance, encircled with a band of blue for constancy, and an outer band of red for mercy and relief of suffering. Dr. Opas reports that by 1916 the practice of pinning new nurses was common in schools
throughout the United Kingdom and North America.
When the nursing pinning ceremony was first initiated in the 1860's, the lamp was a symbol of the care and devotion the nurse administers to the sick and injured in the practice of nursing. After nurses were pinned, Nightingale would light a lamp and pass the flame to each nurse as they said the Pledge:
Original 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 lamp further represents Nightingale's famous 'Rounds At Night', and is symbolic of her dedication.
What I know about caps is a black stripe was meant to memorialize the death of Florence, and signifies 'expert nurse'. In years past students would wear a plain cap, and upon graduation would receive a colored stripe unique to the the school or school colors. Capping was once a very important ceremony along with the lamp lighting, pinning, and Nightingale pledge. Many schools are bringing back the capping ceremony due to it's historical and professional significance. Although our student body voted down an actual ceremony, any graduate who wanted one was presented a cap during the pinning. We researched the original school cap, and had them made at Kay's Caps.