The Pinning Ceremony

Stories - Degrees ScrollsAlthough most colleges and courses have graduation ceremonies, most nurses look back on their pinning ceremony as the most moving, definitive moment of their educational experience.  Caps and gowns are nice, and you shouldn’t avoid the ceremonies your school gives you.

However, pinning ceremonies are for nursing students only, a tradition in the profession, and often profoundly moving.  If you’ve been in school for years, it may feel like the ultimate climax and welcome to nursing.

More than passing your boards, the pinning ceremony welcomes you into the club.  You can expect to be surrounded by a great deal of nurses: teachers, preceptors, managers from local facilities, and nurse relatives.

Each ceremony is different, and it depends on your school and nursing program what your pinning will be like.  Usually, there will be some form of entertainment, some retrospective on what your class has gone through.

In some cases, video presentations will be made, showing the friendships and new abilities learned.  Most ceremonies involve a respected nurse speaker who may be a director of nursing from a nearby facility.

When it comes to the actual pinning, the process varies widely.  Usually, nurses will read the Nightingale Oath, confirming their intentions to practice according to the ethics inspired by our founder.

“In the end, pinning is highly variable and highly individual.”

Depending on the size of your class, you will be called up to the stage one at a time while your friends and family look on.  Although this is a ceremony for nurses, it is a great feeling to have those who supported you look on from the audience.

Some schools allow you to choose who gets to pin you.  You may be able to pick your husband or your mother, if you desire, but not all schools allow for that.

In most cases, the one to pin the new nurse should be a nurse themselves.  If you have a nurse mentor or a nurse in the family, this may be the time to ask them to perform this act for you.

Even if you don’t have a nurse you are particularly close to, you can choose among the staff, and in some schools, only the staff is able to pin new nurses.  It is highly variable, and some schools change from year to year, depending on what the new nurses desire.

If you had a favorite teacher in your program, this would be a good person to tap as a pinner.  More often, though, it is the nurses that lead clinicals that have the most impact on students.

You may want to choose a clinical preceptor who showed you the ropes, encouraged you when you stumbled, and helped you put in that first foley.  Choosing who you want to pin you is a highly personal decision, and you need to make it within the constraints of your school’s rules

In the end, pinning is highly variable and highly individual.  If your favorite teacher isn’t available to welcome you into the profession, it is still acceptable to have one of the other nurses pin you.

Pinning is about the whole of nursing embracing the newest graduates into the profession, and if you can’t have your ideal pinner, then you can compromise with someone that is passing their torch onto you.

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