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Pozez Auditorium at the Baker University School of Nursing, in Topeka, Kansas, was bustling on Tuesday, Aug. 14. Florence Nightingale’s portrait and lantern were on display next to neat rows of pins. Students and their families chatted and determined the best seats for the Commitment to Compassion Ceremony.

“It’s a celebration of making it through the first semester,” said Mary Harner, a nursing student honored that evening. “It shows our dedication that we really want to be nurses, and we’re in it to finish.”

Historically, this celebration would have been a capping ceremony, Dr. Libby Rosen, School of Nursing professor, explained at the event. Although nurses no longer wear caps, the occasion still needs to be marked, and what better way than for the nursing students to commit their best care to their future patients.

“The Commitment to Compassion Ceremony honors the essential role nurses play in professional health care, recognizes their parity with their medical counterparts, and promotes their understanding of the compassion necessary to carry out this service,” said ceremony organizer and BSN Program Manager Tammy Heine. “The students are given a symbolic pin during the ceremony that represents their school, their commitment, and their dedication to the profession.”

During the ceremony, students, looking excited and proud, walked onto the stage one at a time and were joined by someone special who attached their pin to their coat. Many asked their parents to do the honor, and some asked their children, family members wearing scrubs, or a favorite professor. Following the pinning, the students and all nurses at the event pledged to provide compassionate service.

“[This] is a time for the students to reflect and to dedicate themselves to this honorable work,” said Heine. “It is heartening to have a new rite of passage that instills a sense of civility and humbleness to the calling of becoming a nurse.”

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