Remarks: Dr. Sharon George, Dean of Nursing

I am honored to welcome you to the Pinning Ceremony for the Saint Anselm Department of Nursing Class of 2014.  Today our nursing graduates will participate in the rich tradition of the pinning ceremony.  It is a proud moment when a nurse receives his or her pin and a moment in life that is cherished by nurses everywhere.  The pinning ceremony presents you with the mark of your school, so all will know that you have become part of the proud nursing alumni at St. Anselm College.  It is the first step that you take along the path of your career into the profession of nursing.

Dr. Sharon George leads the procession into the Abbey Church

Dr. Sharon George (right) leads the nursing faculty and the nursing class of 2014 into the Abbey Church.

The nurse pinning ceremony originated in the 1860s at St. Thomas Hospital’s Nightingale School of Nursing in London, England when Florence Nightingale chose to honor her most outstanding graduate nurses by awarding each of them a medal of excellence. The practice of awarding nurses a badge was soon after adopted and the first pin was awarded at the Bellevue Hospital School of Nursing in New York City.

The nursing pin has been both literally and symbolically a cross to bear, a medal and a badge. Nursing is a cross to bear for those of us who remain with the patient long after others have given up hope and gone home. Nurses never forget about their patients even when they are not caring for them physically, they remain in their thoughts, remembering always that they are caring for someone's mother, father, sister, brother, son or daughter, and that these people are counting on them to do for their loved one what they themselves cannot do. There are those times when, in spite of all of our technology and care, the patient does not survive and we must admit defeat and yield to death. At times this emotional burden truly seems unbearable, but we understand it is part of both the pain and the privilege of being a nurse. The nursing pin remains a symbolic medal of honor. Nurses honor both the miracle of life and the finality of death. The nursing pin is also a badge of courage. Nurses are courageous and caring for those patients that would otherwise be ignored or exiled by society. The pinning ceremony is, therefore, so much more than an event to mark the completion of nursing school. It is a beautiful rite of passage into the profession.

As part of the pinning ceremony, you will take the Nightingale pledge, an oath to honor and respect your patients and your profession.  You will become part of our nursing profession and you will commit to conducting yourself and serving your profession of caring for others with honor, purity, compassion and respect.  You have a commitment to our patients to continue to practice with compassion and respect in order to preserve the integrity of this honorable profession. Today we want to honor you for choosing this challenging and rewarding profession and for the difference you will make in the lives of your patients. The faculty, together with our colleagues and nursing leaders, have paved the way for the future of nursing but YOU are the key to shaping the future of nursing and healthcare in this country.  You are the key to influence change and you are the key to preserve the image of nursing.

Through your formal education we have taught you how to be a nurse.  But the manner in which you perform these duties, the qualities described in the Nightingale Pledge, cannot be taught per se.  They are the substance that you must find within yourself – a commitment that only you can make.

So, through this pinning ceremony, we welcome you to the profession of nursing.  Never cease to allow the profession to challenge and inspire you to venture further.  We ask you to join us in committing to provide the highest standards of care for our patients. We look forward to seeing the mark that each of you will make on our profession – the contributions that you will make to the way we care for our patients, the difference that you will make in people’s lives, the respect with which you will treat God’s gift of life as it is entrusted to you and never loose your passion for caring.  May God bless you as you begin your wonderful journey into the profession of nursing.