Vanderbilt Nursing’s virtual pinning relies on tradition and technology

Coronavirus, social distancing and postponement of Commencement festivities didn’t prevent the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing from holding its traditional pinning ceremonies for students finishing their programs—the event just became virtual.

Pinning is a more than 100-year-old tradition unique to the nursing profession. Every nursing school has a specially designed pin that its graduates wear. At the completion of their programs, students ceremoniously receive their school’s pin to signify entry into the nursing profession. Vanderbilt’s pinning events are tradition-rich and eagerly anticipated by students and faculty.

Screenshot of video conference particpants in VUSN May 2020 pinning ceremonyThe School of Nursing held two back-to-back ceremonies via video conferencing on Thursday, May 7. The first was held for Doctor of Nursing Practice graduates, who were mailed lavaliers to wear as pin guards for pins they would have received when obtaining their first nursing degrees. The DNP ceremony honored 58 graduates.

The second ceremony was for 23 Master of Science in Nursing students finishing family nurse practitioner, dual nurse-midwifery/family nurse practitioner or emergency nurse practitioner programs, plus eight post-graduate nurses who completed Post-Master’s Certificates in the ENP program. The MSN students were mailed VUSN pins bearing the likeness of Cornelius Vanderbilt, the university’s founder. The Post-Master’s graduates receive certificates of completion.

IVUSN alumni board president Joshua Thornberry on a Zoom conference call for May 2020 Pinningn each ceremony, Dean Linda D. Norman, DSN, FAAN, the Valere Potter Menefee Professor of Nursing, greeted the students and their guests, and spoke about the significance and history of pinning. Senior Associate Dean for Academics Mavis Schorn, PhD, CNM, FACNM, FAAN, FNAP, read the name of each student being pinned while the individual’s photo was shown on a shared screen. VUSN Alumni Association President Joshua Thornberry, MSN’12, welcomed the newly pinned to the ranks of Vanderbilt alumni.

The ceremony for the MSN students also included the presentation of the Outstanding Emergency Nurse Practitioner Student Award to Trudylee Chandler for academic achievement, excellence in clinical practice, leadership, community service and potential for future contributions to nursing. Instructor Susanna Rudy, DNP’16, MSN’14, received the ENP program’s Sara K. Archer Faculty Award. The student-voted award recognizes a faculty member for outstanding contributions to student learning.

ENP student TrudyLee ChandlerThe Outstanding Student and Sara K. Archer awards for FNP and Nurse-Midwifery/FNP were awarded previously. Awards for DNP faculty and students are awarded during the school year.

The video festivities were watched by family and friends of the graduates, some of whom could be seen gathered on the couch with spouses and children. Others were side by side looking into the computer monitor or gazing into a computer at their desks. The two web ceremonies attracted nearly 200 attendees.