First Fruits


This week I had the inordinate pleasure of attending the Badging Ceremony (Pinning for our American brethren) of a group of Nurses I mentored during their time at the University. I also had the honour of being the keynote speaker for the event, which was a new and exciting endeavour I hadn’t yet experienced.

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The night was beautifully set up by some of the students, you know who you are, and was primarily put together by those students. The funding for the event came from the Diploma of Nursing Society, which I created and Chair. The night was MC’d by a student with enough charisma to bring the house down, Charlie you did an excellent job, don’t ever change. The evening flowed amazingly with presentations commemorating this time together, speeches from the staff congratulating the students and from the students thanking the staff, and of course the presentation of the actual badges.

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The history of the pinning ceremony is long standing, the nursing pin has a long history, dating back more than 1,000 years to the 12th century crusades. During this violent time period, those who were devoted to caring for the injured and ill were given large Maltese crosses to wear on the battlefields. These crosses with equal-sized arms were large enough for all to see.

However, it’s the legacy of the famed Florence Nightingale hundreds of years later that has influenced modern-day nursing school pinning ceremonies. Hospitals recognized Nightingale’s impact on the field of healthcare—particularly nursing—and began creating pinning programs beginning in the mid-1880s. Initially, only those nurses with exceptional marks and practice received pins, but that later expanded to a larger audience—including all nurses devoted to the welfare and well-being of society.

By 1916, pinning ceremonies were common in the U.S. and England. Since then, colleges and universities have created their own pins as well as produced their own versions of the ceremony. While some have decided to forego the ceremony and pin altogether, many continue the time-honored tradition.

Usually a separate celebration from receiving a diploma, the pinning ceremony tends to be more intimate and involves new nursing graduates and their families as well as faculty members and other representatives from the school of nursing. Some ceremonies dictate that family members pin the new graduates, while others have nursing school faculty members place pins. Nevertheless, the pinning ceremony symbolizes the graduate’s achievement of completing the educational requirements and marks their transition into the profession.

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As a final thought on the night I though I would share a portion of the key note I delivered. This section was the conclusion, and more generalised in nature.

The average life span of a nurse is just 3.7 years. It is a tough and often thankless profession that demands nothing shy of perfection every single day. It requires you to often sacrifice yourself for the betterment of others. It requires you to have the knowledge of a Doctor without the pay to match. It is a profession where you will get covered in all varying forms of bodily fluids, handle the worst that comes out of a patient, and smile while you’re doing it.  It will require you to hold back your own tears as you comfort others. You will need to juggle dozens of things at a time, and still need to make sure they all fall into place. You will be pushed by the patients to breaking point, but still deliver care with a soft and welcoming hand. You will be the first thing a baby will see, and last thing an elder will see. You will hold peoples lives in your hand as they deteriorate following trauma, and you will smile when they rehabilitate. You will write more in a shift then most authors do in weeks, and decipher more scripts than an archaeologist. You are blessed to be a part of this profession, and the profession is lucky to have you.

As a final thought I leave you with this. Nursing is a profession that requires a high level of skill and dedication. Try and take something away from every shift. Whether it be a new technique, new skill, or even a new medication, learn something. And of course try and remember, if its wet and not yours wear gloves.

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To all of those who were pinned this week, I wish you all the very best in your endeavours. For those of you who are still on the journey I wish you the very best of luck. I know I am looking forward to my Badging at the completion of my Bachelor.

Maintain the Rage

Luke Sondergeld

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