nursing pins for pinning ceremony

The Top 6 Nursing Pins (and the Fascinating Story Behind Them!)

Written by: Kristine Thorndyke

When you finally make it to your pinning ceremony, all the emotions seem to creep up on you as you think back to the physical and emotional toll of the past years of nursing school. This is a great time to be a new nurse graduate and you may want to choose the nursing pin that means something special to you.

We’re going to explain the story behind nursing pins and help you choose which one is best for you! Working towards the NCLEX? Here is a great NCLEX study plan to get you passing the first time!

As you are headed into your new career, you can read this amazing history behind the patron saint of nurses, which will give you inspiration as you are sure to face obstacles on your job.

The Best Nursing Pins for Graduation

Regardless of whether or not your school provides you with their own nursing pin at graduation, here are some other great nursing pins that you may want to gift for your own fellow nursing graduates or even for yourself!

RN Sterling Silver Nursing Pin

This tarnish resistant sterling silver RN nursing pin makes for the perfect nursing pin for nursing school graduates. This delicate nursing pin features a diamond cut medical caduceus and comes in a gift box, making it a perfect gift for the next pinning ceremony you will attend.

Registered Nurse RN Nursing Pin for Graduation Registered Nurse RN Nursing Pin for Graduation

Looking for a last-minute gift? This nursing pin includes same-day shipping and a cute gift box.

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05/18/2024 04:35 am GMT

Personalized Silver Caduceus – BSN

This personalized silver Caduceus BSN pin can be found on Etsy and is a great way to give an original gift to a nursing graduate. You have plenty of customization options, with an all silver or copper top style as well as a variety of medical emblem options. All you need to do is copy and paste the text that you would like while making the order and it will be filled in with the nursing graduate details.

RN Nursing Pin for Pinning Ceremony – Etsy RN Nursing Pin for Pinning Ceremony – Etsy

This pin can be personalized choosing a birthstone and a charm type for the middle so that it suits an RN, BSN, LPN, or LVN!

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Motivational RN Caduceus Pin

Here is another personalized nursing pin for RNs where you can copy and paste your own text into the order to make this an extra special gift for the nursing graduate pinning ceremony. This pin features the Caduceus charm and can also be purchased with an optional Swarovski crystal birthstone.

Personalized Pin for RN or LPN  - Etsy Personalized Pin for RN or LPN - Etsy

Choose between LPN, RN, or Cadeceus as well as any personalization you want on this nursing pin.

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Stethoscope Nursing Pin

Here’s another customizable nursing pin featuring a stethoscope as well as personalized text. You can choose the text to appear on the two silver charms attached to the bottom.

Stethoscope Pin for Nurses - Etsy Stethoscope Pin for Nurses - Etsy

This high polished personalized Stethoscope Pin for Nurses can have any medical abbreviation to represent any field of study.

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Florence Nightingale Nursing Lamp Pin

We love the reference to the Florence Nightingale lamp and had to add this to our list of the best nursing pins. This pin comes with 3 charms: caduceus degree, a stethoscope, as well as a crystal. You have the option of choosing the color combo as well as the pattern.

Florence Nightingale Graduation Pin - Etsy Florence Nightingale Graduation Pin - Etsy

The is the ultimate Nursing pin highlighting Florence Nightingale's lantern and the important legacy she left behind.

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Nursing Graduate Lamp Pin

This nursing graduate enamel lapel pin does not come with the same level of customization, but features the Florence Nightingale lamp. This is quite similar to a nursing pin you will receive from your school, but at a fraction of the cost. You can buy in bulk, so you can gather your nursing grad friends and purchase at a greater discount!

Blue Lamp of Knowledge Nursing Graduate Lapel Pin Blue Lamp of Knowledge Nursing Graduate Lapel Pin

Each pin comes with a clutch back and is individually poly bagged.

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05/18/2024 04:49 am GMT

What is the Nursing Pin History?

The nursing pin tradition has quite an impressive backstory and one worth noting as you are preparing for your own nursing pin ceremony! The nursing pin ceremony dates back to the Crusades in the 12th century. A group of knights were caring for and seeing to some of their fellow suffering crusaders.

This proved extremely effective, so that when new monks joined the Knights Order, they made it their mission to care for the sick and wounded soldiers. When a new monk would join the Knights Order, they hosted a ceremony where each monk was given a Maltese cross to wear on his arm as a symbol for Christianity.

Nursing pins didn’t exactly become a ceremony for nurses who completed official training until around the 1860s when Florence Nightingale was honored with the Red Cross of St. George for her tireless efforts treating soldiers during the Crimean War.

florence nightingale


Because Florence Nightingale wanted to continue recognizing hard work and effort, she began awarding medals of excellence in the form of the Maltese Cross to nurses who completed the program at The Nightingale School of Nursing at St. Thomas’s Hospital in London (which can now be found at King’s College London). These medals were only awarded to the best and hardest working nurse graduates, but was not received by every graduate in the program.

It wasn’t until 1880 at Bellevue Hospital in New York City did every graduating nurse from the program receive a pin. This specific pin was not the Maltese Cross but rather a crane to symbolize vigilance.

How Does a Nursing Pinning Ceremony Work?

nursing pinning ceremony


Before the nursing pinning ceremony, the soon-to-be nursing graduate invites all of his or her family and friends to join in on the event. The nursing graduate will choose one special person to dedicate the pin to who generally joins the nurse graduate on stage for the pinning.

The school faculty representative will give this dedicated person the pin and this person will then pin the nursing graduate. While this is being done, a nursing faculty member will be reading the dedication from the nursing student to the person they had chosen to do the pinning. This portion of the event can be extremely important and emotional for those involved!

Generally, during the pinning ceremony, students will listen to the rich history of the pinning ceremony as well as have a candle or lamp-lighting ceremony. The lighting of this lamp or candle is done in remembrance of Florence Nightingale, who had helped wounded soldiers at night by candlelight. Learn more about the nurse symbol meanings

Why You Should Consider Having a Nursing Pinning Ceremony

The nursing pinning ceremony is a long-held tradition that recognizes you, a new nursing graduate, for all the hard work and dedication you have displayed both in your studies as well as at the hospital. This is the best time to come together with friends, fellow classmates, and loved ones and celebrate your accomplishments. The nursing pinning ceremony symbolizes the completion of your educational requirements that allows for you to later sit for your state licensure examination. This moment of transitioning from student to practicing nurse will only happen once in your career and should be a moment of celebration!

Nursing Pinning Ceremony FAQ

Do All Schools Have a Nursing Pinning Ceremony?

Not all nursing programs are continuing their nursing pinning ceremony, considering it outdated and unnecessary. Other schools have nursing students raise money to host their own nursing pinning ceremony.

What should I wear to a nursing pinning ceremony?

Professional attire should be worn to the nurse pinning ceremony (and nurses are often recommended to wear their white coat).

How long does a nurse pinning ceremony last?

Nursing pinning ceremonies usually last for about 2 hours and often includes refreshments and light snacks afterwards.

When is the nursing pinning ceremony?

Most nursing pinning ceremonies take place around the end of April or beginning of May – right before final exams (and before achieving a nursing license).

Wrap Up

Regardless of whether you are attending a nurse pinning ceremony hosted by your school, hosting your own ceremony, or not having one at all, you should be extremely proud of your accomplishments and the hard work you have put into completing nursing school. Congratulations on the effort and we wish you the best in your nursing career!