Pinning ceremonies date back to medieval times when the Monks who cared for the wounded soldiers in 12th-century battles were pinned for their service. The Monks’ pin, a Maltese cross at that time, represented caretaking. Florence Nightingale, the founder of the first nursing school, also was awarded a red Maltese cross for her work in caring for the wounded in the Crimean War. The badge that Florence Nightingale awarded to exemplary nursing students in the 1860s was also a pin in the shape of the Maltese cross. All four sides of the cross were equal and had the appearance of angel wings.
The pinning ceremony –also known here at Salem State as the recognition ceremony in nursing is the most significant event for nursing school graduates. After years of very hard work and study, students from the BSN program and the RN to BSN program who participate in this celebration say that this ceremony is more meaningful to them than their university graduation. This is the moment when a nursing faculty member – whom the class has selected – will award the nursing school pin to each nursing graduate, one at a time. This ceremony marks the first time that a nursing student finally becomes in name and title “nurse.” As faculty award the school of nursing pin to each nursing graduate individually, the placement of the pin symbolically conveys the transfer of the faculty’s nursing knowledge, skill, attitude, and professionalism. The placement of the pin also represents the time-honored tradition of welcoming the new nurse into the profession of nursing.