First off ... Really,  what is a pinning ceremony?

While similar to a college graduation, a nurse's pinning ceremony is an event to honor and celebrate the successful completion of the nursing program and the beginning of one's career in nursing. 

It is held at the end of the program and usually before the graduates have taken their State Licensing test. 

Each part of the ceremony is steeped in tradition. While no two schools seem to do this the same way, using these traditions, a class can create a wonderful experience for the graduates, families and friends that attend.

Words from Graduates about going to their Nurse Pinning Ceremony

(all comments found on

"If I was going to miss one it would not be the pinning. It brought tears to my eyes. It is only nursing students staff and your family. You will regret it if you do not go. Out is a time when you are recognized for your achievement. Trust me my family even said if they had too choose it would be pinning to go to."

"Pinning is much more personal, since it's not the entire school's graduating class, but the nursing class only. So for mine, there will be 18 of us, probably. Each student writes a little speech and can read it or have it read, then they all go up and get pinned by whomever they choose. I'm having my kids do it since they've been through a lot and missed me a lot during school." An ADN , RN

"It is, well meant to be, a very meaningful celebration of your accomplishments that you can enjoy with your family, friends and fellow classmates. Schools do it differently. You are pinned as a commemoration of your graduation. Some schools will have the professors pin the student body. Some let their students choose a RN or some other meaningful person in their life to come up to the stage and pin them. The usual graduation rigmarole is there like special attire, speakers, special venue etc. "

"I skipped the graduation and just went to my pinning and let me tell you, it marked the end of one journey and the start of a new one. I would not have missed it for the world. I don't think any of us had a dry eye." BSN

When to plan and get ordering?

  • The easiest way to plan this event is to start with a quick budget the first day of the last year or semester of your program

  • Collect any money early, before all those other fees and and costs at the end of the course. This takes the stress off everyone. 

  • Order your pins, lamps, caps, uniforms, banners etc. at least 10-12 weeks before the ceremony. Remember in Spring, about 900+ custom orders are at the factories with yours, all shooting for the same delivery time. This way if something breaks when received or gets lost there is plenty of time to get things fixed or replaced. Waiting till 11:58pm of the deadline means something will go wrong and people's feelings will be hurt. 

  • But what if someone doesn't pass? We hear this common concern that the entire class wants to hold up the order until they know EVERYONE is going to pass some critical set of tests. By not ordering custom items you risk everyone not getting there items on-time. Adding costs for air shipping and additional delivery cost if you have to mail each person's supplies to them after the graduation. (If someone should fail to pass the course, they receive the items they paid for and will use them when they do graduate.) 

  • Getting in line early, to help avoid delays. For most custom orders, prepayment is required - it's not an actual order with the clock running until payment is received. This way if something breaks or gets lost there is plenty of time to get things fixed or replaced. Waiting till 11:58pm of the deadline means something will go wrong and people's feelings will be hurt. 

What are the main components of the ceremony?

Because we get so many people asking us what should (or could)  your perfect nursing graduation pinning ceremony look like, we thought we would try to put a few ideas together.

We based this on pinning ceremonies we have seen and comments hundreds of customers have every year that order from us. 

In a way, this event is like a wedding. 

You can add every single great idea you have ever heard of and try to cram it into 45 minute ceremony OR you can add the important items that work for your group based upon your class, faculty and budget without going overboard. The later makes the most sense for most classes.

Make it Comfortable and Affordable?

  • If a banquet of lobster and champagne on a yacht is way too pricey, after the reception? How about coffee and cookies with a nice banner that says "Congratulations Nursing Class of 2018". 
  • If a custom 4-color nursing lamp with hand painted gold accents and solid gold nursing graduation pins costs more than your car?  What about a one-color lamp with a custom gold-plated or chrome-plated nursing pin, may cost less than $40 per person total. 
  • The important part of this event is to create wonderful memories with your nursing class, family and friends. A nice teaseful, fun, organized ceremony that is low-stress, paid for early and ordered early so it wont' break the bank and stress everyone out.

The Components of the Ceremony

  • Have a Place: a place free or low cost (at school, a hall or auditorium) that is big enough for people to attend with chairs, parking and handicapped access. Your school should help with this as it is also a marketing event for the school as well.

  • Short Speeches from teachers, faculty and/or students: Speaking about there experiences with this class.

  • Featured Speaker: Usually speaking about the profession of nursing or healing.

  • Special Student Awards: Suggestions include: top student or top students in certain areas (Pediatrics, Emergency Care etc.) Most improved etc. On a lighter note, craziest patient situation or class mishap.  So many things come to mind over the length of a course this.

  • Recognizing Graduates.Making sure to say each person's name is important for the graduate and the family gathered to witness the event.

  • Nursing LampLamp Lighting: In early hospital care, doctors and staff went home at nightfall and returned each morning. They would begin by removing the dead during the night, then begin rounds. Florence Nightingale was credited with saving many lives by staying the night with a lantern and tended to the sick till dawn. She became known as the "Lady with (or of) the Lamp" This image was combined with Lamp of Knowledge (of "Burning the Midnight Oil" to study to acquire knowledge) to become the symbol of Nursing.  Ceremonies may dim the lights and light the candles on at a time until the full class is lit. or others have the graduates walk down the isles in a procession with the lit candles and arrive on stage. 
    Note: today about 90% of ceremonies use a battery powered Nursing Lamps as fire rules prevent most open flames. We offer both types but check with your fire marshal before ordering.

  • Capping: Nursing Caps had a long tradition with nursing but ended in the late 1990s as new standard for BBP made them obsolete. They helped improve patient sanitation and made it easier to cover and  keep one's hair back. Each school and branch of military service had a specific design of cap and one could identify a 'training and school by looking. (One company made over 3,300 different designs of nurses cap from what looked like a French maid's cap to Nun's Coif and even vails). Many hospitals added stripes and colors to the cap to show ones skill level. Head nurses (for instance) having the 2-4 stripes on the nursing cap. Today the cap look great at the ceremony and/or to have your pictures taken. The nurses cap is a symbol your family and grand-children will appreciate. 
  • Custom Nursing Graduation pinStock Nursing PinPinning: The pinning ceremony goes (again) back to Florence Nightingale being awarded a metal from country of Malta for her caring for wounded in battle. When she later began her school for nurses, she gave each graduate a Maltese Cross pin. Nursing Schools in Europe and later the US began awarding pins to new graduates to show there level of professionalism as caregivers. Each school designed a unique pin Today many smaller schools also use stock pins. Our company designs both custom and stock pins.(We send out about 20,000 nursing and allied health pins per year to our customers across the Country, Canada and the Caribbean.)

  • Reciting the Nursing Oath is called the Nightingale Pledge.

    • 1935 revised version Nightingale Pledge (changes from original italicized)
      I solemnly pledge myself before God and in the presence of this assembly to pass my life in purity and to practise 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 their work, and as a missioner of health, I will dedicate myself to devoted service for human welfare.

      "Practical Nurse Pledge", a modern version based on the "Nightingale Pledge"

      Before God and those assembled here, I solemnly pledge;
      To adhere to the code of ethics of the nursing profession;
      To co-operate faithfully with the other members of the nursing team and to carry out faithfully and to the best of my ability the instructions of the physician or the nurse who may be assigned to supervise my work;
      I will not do anything evil or malicious and I will not knowingly give any harmful drug or assist in malpractice.
      I will not reveal any confidential information that may come to my knowledge in the course of my work.
      And I pledge myself to do all in my power to raise the standards and prestige of the practical nursing;
      May my life be devoted to service and to the high ideals of the nursing profession.

    • International Pledge for Nurses. (A little more secular, adopted by the International Council of Nurses )

      In the full knowledge of the obligations I am undertaking, I promise to care for the sick with all of the skill and understanding I possess, without regard to race, creed, color, politics, or social status.
      I will respect at all times the dignity and religious beliefs of the patients under my care, holding in confidence all personal information entrusted to me and refraining from any action that might endanger life or health. 
      I will endeavor to keep my professional knowledge and skill at the highest level and to give loyal support and cooperation to all members of the health team.
      I will do my utmost to honor the international code of ethics applied to nursing and to uphold the integrity of the nurse. 

  • Nursing Uniforms are usually in a Classic White Nursing Uniform. While today it is unusual to see nurses in white uniforms and caps in the hospital, it is the classic image of nursing. It also looks great in class and individual photos, the ceremony and or reception. (Cap and all)  Most graduates wear a nursing dress or scrub top with nursing skirt (or pants.) Many wear white stockings. Gentleman, might wear a Residence's Coat with either white or black dress slacks, dress shoes. If women in the class are wearing Nurse Caps, then a man would wear a white miter board style hat.
Closing : Something simple and professional to close out the event.

Reception: Remember that everything is optional, but a room or hall for people to gather at the end of the ceremony in, to say there congratulations and goodbyes is a nice thing.

You can have something as simple as coffee, soda and inexpensive cookies or get as fancy as you like. Pinterest and Instagram have a growing list of creative, nursing themed, treats and decorations that would make any party or reception fun. 

I hope this page is helpful for people beginning the planning for their Nursing Pinning Ceremony.

We hope you will check out our selection of products to complete your ceremony at these fine websites.
and of course

Look for our next article on how to save money on your Nursing Graduation.
How to save money by knowing what you are buying 

For questions or suggestions please feel free to call out customer service or reach out with our Comments Box at the bottom of the page.