What is the nursing school pinning ceremony? That’s a great question. As the semester winds down and nursing students prepare for graduation, they’ll likely have the privilege of attending a pinning ceremony.
Many nursing schools hold a pinning ceremony for graduating students, and some viewers have asked that I share my experience. So, here it goes…
What is a Nursing School Pinning Ceremony?
The pinning ceremony is a way for nursing schools and professors to honor and congratulate the graduating class for their hard work, and to welcome them into the nursing profession. It functions much like a normal graduation, but it tends to focus exclusively on graduating nursing students, rather than the entire graduating class from a university.
Rather than handing students a degree or diploma, an individual (usually a nursing professor or dean of the nursing college) will pin a small pin or ribbon onto the nursing student’s shirt, which is a symbolic way of saying, “You’ve made it! You’re one of us now.”
I enjoyed the pinning ceremony much more than the actual graduation ceremony, because the pinning ceremony focused exclusively on nursing students. I was able to talk to classmates and professors, and it was much more memorable and personal. It was also much shorter (I think it lasted about an hour or so). We didn’t wear a cap and gown to the pinning ceremony, but professional dress was encouraged (I wore a dress to mine). Some nursing schools ask that students dress in scrubs and a lab jacket.
In contrast, thousands of people attended the general graduation ceremony at my university. This ceremony was much more general (it included students from all majors), and it took about 3-4 hours!
What Happens During a Nursing School Pinning Ceremony?
Our pinning ceremony was held in an auditorium on campus, which was decorated with balloons and floral arrangements. When we arrived outside of the auditorium, they had a large picture frame that included a picture of all the nursing students in our graduating class. (My nursing school had a tradition of taking a picture of all the nursing students for each graduating class and then hanging it up in the nursing building.)
Once we entered the building, several individuals introduced themselves on stage and gave a speech. Oftentimes, the dean of the nursing school will be present, as well as many nursing professors and staff.
The speakers offered some funny memories, recognized students who had excelled, gave some words of wisdom, and encouraged us in our future journey as nurses. A couple of students from our graduating class also gave a short speech.
After the speeches concluded, nursing students were called onto the stage one-by-one, at which point we were pinned by the teacher who was voted as our “favorite teacher” by our nursing class.
Finally, after everyone was pinned, the entire nursing student class stood in the auditorium and recited the famous “Nightingale Pledge,” written by Lystra Gretter. This pledge is similar to the Hippocratic oath taken by physicians:
“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 aid the physician in his [or her] work, and as a missioner of health, I will dedicate myself to devoted service for human welfare.”
Make the Most of Your Pinning Ceremony
The pinning ceremony is a very important event for nursing students, and I’d encourage you to make the most of it. It is a time to celebrate all of your hard work, so have fun and enjoy it!
Reflecting back on it, I can still recall the emotions I felt during my pinning ceremony. On one hand, it was so nice finishing nursing school. Yet, on the other hand, it was surreal to think about how my life was changing and how I had achieved my dream of becoming a nurse.
It was also sad thinking of how all of the people I met in nursing school would scatter around the country, start families, and move on with their lives as they advanced in their careers.