Pinning Ceremonies

Pinning Ceremony

The Nursing Pin

Our nursing pin, featuring the initials of the school, is given in a ceremony to every nurse upon graduation from the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing. Our graduates take positions all across the globe, but they are forever linked by their experiences at Emory and their nursing pins.

School of Nursing Pinning Ceremonies

The school's pinning ceremonies take place twice a year during Fall Convocation and the Spring Awards Ceremony. Our BSN students receive their nursing pins during the Spring Awards Ceremony, and our AMSN students receive their pins at Fall Convocation before they embark on the MSN portion of their degree program. 

History of the Nursing Pin

The nursing pin, given to every nurse upon graduation from the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing, cannot be considered mere jewelry or a reminder of graduation like the tassel or a mortarboard. Rather, the nursing pin has a history that connects each new Emory nurse to every nurse who has come before, every nurse in the United States, every nurse who has ever accepted the responsibility of the profession.

The wearing of the nursing pin is a privilege earned by graduates of nursing programs across the country. It is a symbol of the practice of nursing and the educational preparation of the wearer. Most schools have a pinning ceremony to honor their graduates, and the Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing is no exception. Over the years, the design of the Emory nursing pin has changed very little. The firstpin, created for the graduating class of 1907, was inspired by the Maltese Cross and the Red Cross. This is fitting as the Maltese Cross dates back to the symbols associated with the knights of the Crusades. At that time, nurses undertook both a military role and a nursing role as they worked alongside the knights tending to the needs of the wounded. Each of the eight points of the Maltese cross stands for a beatitude the knights and nurses were to obey. This cross is the original symbol of service.

The location and name of Emory’s nursing school also affected its appearance. The first pin of the School of Nursing was created for The Wesley Memorial Hospital Training School for Nurses founded in 1905 in downtown Atlanta. Nurses who earned a diploma received a gold pin on which there was a dark red cross, surrounded by delicate gold filigree supporting a white enamel banner above the cross with the initials WMH, for Wesley Memorial Hospital.

As the pins of subsequent years illustrate, the nursing school changed its location and name over the next half century. In 1922, pins still bore the letters WMH for Wesley Memorial Hospital. The school had moved to Emory campus but the name was not changed to Emory University Hospital until 1926. Then, the only change in the pin was the addition of the initials EUH on the porcelain banner. In the mid-1940s, the letters changed to EUSN, for Emory University School of Nursing. Finally the letters were changed to NHWSN after the school name was changed in 1967 to honor Mrs. Nell Hodgson Woodruff, wife of Coca-Cola magnate Robert W. Woodruff, for her lifelong love and support for the nursing profession. Mrs. Woodruff broke ground for our very first nursing building in April 1968, just five days before her death. Her memory and her legacy are always with us.