Published on December 13, 2019 by Sara Roman  

First commissioned by Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, the pinning tradition is a special rite of passage for nursing students. On Thursday, Dec. 12, 28 members of the Ida Moffett School of Nursing class of 2019 were bestowed with this special distinction recognizing each graduate’s readiness to enter into the ministry and service of nursing.

The nursing pin dates back to the Crimean War where the pin was used to set apart those who were prepared, trained and called to serve the sick. Today, Ida Moffett School of Nursing graduates are presented with a special pin as a representation of their mastery of the art of nursing while their diploma is representative of their proficiency in the science of nursing. 

Designed by the Ida Moffett School of Nursing class of 1974, the Ida Moffett School of Nursing pin features two colors, gold in representation of the golden rule and blue to represent truth and loyalty. Found in the center of the pin is a stack of books to represent the knowledge the students have gained and will continue to gain throughout their career. The pin also features the image of a lamp in honor of Nightingale who was frequently documented as carrying a lamp as she made her nightly rounds in the hospital wards.

During the ceremony, Hannah Cheramie, a member of the 2019 graduating class, was honored with the Nightingale Award which is given to the student who expresses compassionate care and excellence in clinical nursing practice. Cheramine was selected to receive this special award through a vote of her peers.

“Ida Moffett School of Nursing takes great pride in preparing graduates who are readily competent and compassionate,” said Nena F. Sanders, College of Health Sciences vice provost and Ida Moffett School of Nursing dean. “We believe that patient care is enhanced when a student combines their scientific expertise with care, compassion and commitment. As our namesake Ida V. Moffett said, ‘the whole person must be considered in the process of healing. Healing includes attention to his physical, emotional, social and spiritual needs.’”

Cindy Berry, professor and director of community partnerships and clinical education, used her nursing journey to offer the students sentiments of advice as they transition into the field of nursing. She used personal stories to encourage them to be an advocate for their patients, always do the right thing and treat everyone like family. Berry also shared difficult situations that taught her humility, grace, love and the importance of trust, teamwork and friendship.

“I could go on and on about what I have learned over my career. This profession and the people I have cared for have given me much more than I could have ever imagined,” said Berry. “My wish for you is that you open your hearts and minds to all that is out there. Everyone does not have the privilege of walking with people during their most joyous and devastating times. Take full advantage of every opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.”

lighting of the lamp

The ceremony concluded with the lighting of the lamp and reciting of the nursing pledge. In addition to its ties to Nightingale, the lamp is representative of the search for scientific knowledge and a commitment to lifelong learning. In reciting the nursing pledge, students vowed to maintain the high standard of nursing care set forth by those before them and to use their knowledge and skills to enhance patient care with dignity and respect.

Of the 28 members of the graduating class, 25 have already accepted positions across the country and will serve in a multitude of fashions. Sarah Ferrell will serve as an activity duty labor and delivery nurse for the United States Navy and Elizabeth Rochester will serve in the liver and kidney transplant unit at Children’s of Alabama. For Michael Tenoschok, who is a new member of the 2019 graduating class, this moment has been long awaited. Tenoschok was scheduled to graduate in Dec. 2018 but had to delay program completion after he was deployed to serve in Afghanistan with the Georgia Army National Guard. He has accepted a position in the emergency department with UAB Medicine.

“During their time in our program, these students have worked diligently to gain the knowledge and skills needed to care for patients across the lifespan,” said Lora Shelton, associate professor and undergraduate program chair. “We are proud to honor them with this pin of distinction and celebrate this special rite of passage as they transition from student to nurse.”