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Information About the Pinning Ceremony

Vrinda Varnekar Mar 20, 2019
Typically varying from school to school, the nursing pinning ceremony is held at the end of the nursing program. A beautiful, sentimental celebration, the pinning ceremony marks the end of one era, and the beginning of a new one. Read on to know more about the pinning ceremony.
"As nurses, we have the opportunity to heal the heart, mind, soul and body of our patients, their families and ourselves. They may not remember your name but they will never forget the way you made them feel."― Maya Angelou
Choosing nursing as a career is one of the most selfless, wonderful decisions one can take. Nurses are special, brilliant, and selfless people, always putting the comfort and well-being of others before themselves. They're the patients' friends, they're the doctors' support system, and the medical world would fall apart without them.
Yes, it's true! Their hard work at nursing school paves the way for a bright, dedicated future in the world of professional nursing, and hence, the completion of nursing school is definitely an occasion worth celebrating.
To make their final moments at nursing school memorable and precious, many schools have been traditionally holding the pinning ceremony, a day before graduation. This ceremony is a testament to the hard work and dedication of the students, it is a fitting send-off, and the best way to wish them an amazing future in the world of professional nursing.

What Is The Pinning Ceremony?

Held a day before graduation and a symbolic welcome for freshly-graduated nurses into professional nursing, the pinning ceremony involves the faculty of that nursing school presenting special pins to the new graduates. This ceremony, like graduation, marks the end of nursing school, and the beginning of a new life that entails taking care of others.
Though the customs differ from school to school, the basic ceremony is the same. The graduating class is asked to pick a person from their life who has supported them, made some kind of an impact on them, or inspired them in some way, and then dedicate this special pin to that person.
On the day of the ceremony, the chosen person has to accompany the graduate to the stage, where a faculty member hands him/her a special pin. The chosen person then has to place the pin on the graduate, as a mark of all the hard work, dedication, and perseverance the student has excellently demonstrated in school.
A faculty member then reads out the student's message to the chosen person, which makes the ceremony a very emotional, sentimental one.
After the actual pinning ceremony is completed, the new graduates honor Florence Nightingale by lighting candles or lamps, and promising to walk on the path she paved with her nursing values and ideals. They also recite the Nightingale Pledge or the International Council of Nurses Pledge.
The faculty members may choose to say a few words to the newly graduating nursing class. The nursing pins which are the key part of this ceremony are usually unique to each school. The junior class and the faculties in some schools also choose to customize the pins, in order to make the ceremony even more special.
Pinning ceremonies differ from school to school, and may also depend upon the size of the graduating nursing class. However, it can be safely assumed that whatever may be the customs, the ceremony itself is a deep, moving one.

History Of The Pinning Ceremony

The tradition of the pinning ceremony was introduced by Florence Nightingale.
Following her selfless efforts of taking care of injured war soldiers in Crimea, Florence Nightingale was honored with the Red Cross of St. George. She chose to share the honor with some of her most hardworking and dedicated nurses and wanted to acknowledge their efforts too.
Hence, she awarded a medal of excellence to a few of the nurses working under her, and thus, the tradition began. In the beginning, the pinning ceremony involved pinning only the best, most talented nurses, but as the years wore on, it became standard in America to award all the graduating nurses with this badge as a mark of excellence.
Historians, however, claim that originally, the pinning ceremony was introduced as early as the 1100s, when several knights turned to nursing when there was dire need of people to tend to the wounded soldiers.
Many new monks introduced into the Knight Order decided to opt for nursing, and so, they were awarded Maltese crosses which they wore on their arms, or in their necks. These knights-turned-nurses did not carry weapons, and wore black tunics. These crosses were much like the pins awarded to nurses today.

Pinning Ceremony Ideas

If the seniors at your nursing school are graduating soon, and you want to give them a fabulous and remarkable farewell, why not organize a unique pinning ceremony? We've got a host of pinning ceremony ideas for you―whether you're a part of the graduating class, or the junior class, or a faculty member, this part is for you!

Dress Code

You can have the graduating class wear their nursing uniforms for the ceremony. After all, isn't it an occasion to mark the beginning of their journey into the world of professional nursing?
Alternatively, you can have a simple, casual dress code where everyone wears their regular clothes to give a light, informal twist to the otherwise moving ceremony. You can also opt for a formal, business attire, and have everyone follow that dress code.

Picture Memories

The journey of a nursing class from the beginning of nursing school to graduation is indeed a proud and special one. Why not have a slide show of pictures of the class as they were engaged in various activities? You can include class photos, pictures of study groups, and any other activities that you have caught on film.
Rest assured that this will stir emotions in every student present. Alternatively, you can also create a picture slide show of the photos of each individual graduating student, from his/her childhood to graduation. Acquiring the pictures might be a task, but the result will be worth the efforts!


After the ceremony is over, you can arrange a luncheon or something similar for the students, the faculty, and the guests who've come for the ceremony.
The Luncheon doesn't really have to be very fancy―the gesture matters more than the menu. Punch and cake, or coffee/tea and sandwiches would be a simple yet great menu for the occasion. If the school's budget allows it, you can have something more elaborate.

Customized Pins

Pins are usually unique to each nursing school. However, you may also customize the pins to be awarded to your seniors in a way that upholds the school spirit, shows your love and admiration for your seniors, and effectively displays their hard work and perseverance.


The president of your class can give a speech in honor of the graduating class.
The speech can be made as light or as deep as you like, and you can be sure that the graduating class will love it. You can include all the memories of the time you've spent together, and how the graduating class has inspired you. If you like, you can also have a faculty member say a few words for the graduating class.
Unfortunately, in recent times, many schools are doing away with the tradition of the pinning ceremony, as they believe it is time-consuming, and outdated. Outdated or not, this ceremony definitely is a way of affirming to oneself―"I did it. I completed my nursing course, and now I'm ready to help the world."