Nursing Symbols

Nursing has been granted great significance for centuries – its’ mission, service, particular tasks in the society. Nursing as a profession begins with establishment of first school for nurses in England, in the 2nd part of 19th century. It is a unique profession regarding intimacy between a nurse and a patient.

Professional role is fundamental for nurses, and its essence lies in caring (the most remarkable, referred to public expectations and requirements task). Expectations derive from social values, their observance becomes a criterion of social trust evaluation. Professional prestige, social evaluation, a need for profession’s existence and development – depend not only on education, but also on ethical foundations. Also tradition is of great importance in education and training of nurses.

Tradition is:

  • „cultural contents passed from generation to generation (customs, opinions, beliefs, rituals, norms etc.) accepted by a community (nation) as socially important for its present and future,

  • transmission of these cultural contents within the community” (Popular Encyclopaedia, 1982)

Traditionally, graduation of nurses is celebrated with presenting them professional symbols and signs.

Rituals make an integral part of solemn events in community’s life – they reflect accepted values, demand their respect, use symbols. Nursing rites reveal mostly during school ceremonies: caps awarding, stripe awarding, oath taking, pledging or other important professional events.

Rites need symbols, defining nurse’s image. They play an important role in social communication, indication professional identity. Nursing symbols are: a cap, a uniform,  an olive-oil lamp, and nursing hymn.

Elaboration: Krystyna Wolska-Lipiec







Photo: Tomasz Budzarek

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