Thursday, February 26, 2015

Paying for Pins

Nursing pins represented the ultimate reward for us. The payment for 3 years of unpleasantness and occasional suffering. Pins were not a commodity to be bought and sold. Their value was symbolic and firmly rooted in nursing history as something almost spiritual in nature. Certainly not something to be sold like an earring or trinket of jewelry.

This is why I was saddened to hear that whippersnapperRN's  have been asked to pay for their pins. How can something so sacred be reduced to a financial transaction. Nursing used to be considered a calling, a profession , certainly not an industry like some people frame it today.  We are not building machinery. We are caring for the sick. We are descendants of people like  Florence Nightingale not Henry Clay Frick.

Somehow, out of respect for nursing's history, the cost of that sacred pin should be factored into the tuition. When I make my first million, I'm setting up OldfoolRN's  pin trust and not one WhippersnapperRN will ever pay for her pin. That's just how things should be.

The pin should be awarded by some highly credentialed big shots not your spouse or boyfriend. Its an  acknowledgement of your accomplishment and a cherished badge of honor.  When the going gets tough and it will, you can look down at your pin and remember that Mr. Hospital Director and Dr. Chief of Staff  said you were fit to be a nurse. Moreover, this was witnessed by a slew of other important people
We were pinned at our graduation ceremony by the Director of Nursing with the Medical chief of Staff  and Hospital Director looking on. The pin was actually physically pinned to your white uniform  with all these bigshots looking on. There are no alumni organizations for my hospital school, but that pin symbolizes a lifetime bond to a place where you shed a lot of tears and sweat.

My pin was worn whenever on duty. We used to try and pull a fast one and "forget" to wear them in the OR, but a reprimand would be forthcoming from a cranky supervisor. I think the pin had even more significance than the cap. They couldn't enforce that "you must wear cap rule" in the OR, but you had to have that pin on no matter what.

I still have my original pin. It's been through the wash many times and I've also had to root through linen hampers and some really unsavory locations to retrieve it. My name and date of graduation is engraved on the back of it. That pin really has to been to hell and back, and I hope to be buried with it so I can follow it back to the promised land if I wind up in a very hot place


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  2. You have stated you have a low emotional intelligence other posts I have read and I cant see how. Each one of these posts I can feel the love, emotion, and passion you have for nursing! I wish I could have had you as my nurse in recovery when I had my hysterectomy. You clearly care very deeply for you the people you were nursing during your years. So compassionate, meticulous, and loving. That is TRUE emotional intelligence. Your stories are something I will carry with me for the rest of my life and use to remind myself in everyday life to be more compassionate and to appreciate the many years I have ahead of myself . Thank you so much

    1. Thanks so much for your kindly words. I was just 18 when I entered nursing school and as the sole male in a class of 73 girls there were challenging times.

      I really felt bad for patients that had to submit to body image alterations mastectomies which were about the only thing offered for breast CA. I used to spend lots of extra time with these patients teaching them exercises to combat lymphedema.

      Vicki, a fellow student cared for oneofthese patients after me and she scrunched up her nose at me and said the patient related how "gentle" I had been and why she could not be as gentle.

      I took it as a dig at my fragile, youthful masculinity, but it made m so happy that I was able to comfort someone suffering in such a profound manner.